This is a very strange week for all teams in the Four Nations Tournament.
Australia is through to the Final, we know that much. We also know that France is no chance of making the final. These two teams play each other while England take on the World Champions in the New Zealand Kiwi’s with a place in the Final on the line.
I can’t help but thinking that both games this week, and the focus of all four teams, is not so much on the next 80 minutes of football they face, but much longer term goals.
Australia wants a good hit out, France wants to build for the future, New Zealand want’s a solid win but have an eye on the final while England is thinking about jagging a win and maybe fluking a finals appearance, but also thinking about the shape of their lineup looking towards the future.
Australia vs France
No one can work out why this game is being played in Paris, well away from the traditional heartlands of French Rugby League which are down in the south of the country.
I get this image of a bunch of RLIF suits sitting around and saying “Where shall we hold this match? You know, I’ve never been to Paris….”.
France have done pretty well in this tournament for the bit of bad luck and lack of top class conditioning they have. They limp into this last game against Australia with a bit of pride restored, by with an eye on improving for the future.
As for Australia, they have a number of injury concerns, they will want to give a few of their extended squad a run in this game, although I would suggest Tim Sheens would not be wanting to rest players with the Final the following weekend.
This should follow ever game France has played. A solid first 20 minutes, the Australian side getting a few tries over the French, and then running away with the game in the last half.
You would hope the Australian side really plays out the full 80 minutes in this one. Then again I get the feeling that they need a good hard hit out, not a training run like this. My Tip: Australia by 54
New Zealand vs England
England have to win this game to take New Zealands place in the Final against Australia, but they have a massive problem to overcome.
Erm, that would be New Zealand, you idiot!
This is the perfect lead in to the Final for the Kiwi’s. They will get a solid work out, but they should win easily. Their forward pack will dominate England and heaven knows what some of their big backs are going to do in this game.
Greg Inglis ripped England to shreds last week, now its Benji Marshall sending Frank Pritchard their way!
For the Poms, they are got some pride back in last weeks performance and hopefully they don’t pick the same old heads just because its a safe option. They need to make a couple of changes if they want to win this game, leading those would be dropping Danny McGuire and getting Kyle Eastmond in as the starting Standoff.
I can’t see England winning this one, but they can still get a lot out of this match. Keep in mind their next major tournament will be in Australia and New Zealand in next years Four Nations, the last thing you want to be doing is fiddling with your combination against Australia and New Zealand in their own back yard! My Tip: New Zealand by 28
So shock horror, I’m going with the Australia vs New Zealand Final and I have to say, as it stands right now, the Kiwi’s have to be favorites.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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