And here we go!
This is the first in a series of general World Cup previews. I’ll be taking you through the teams, showing some of my favoured lineups and telling you what to watch out for.
The first preview is Group C.
While Group A is the Super Group, Group C would have to be the group of death.
I personally believe that either Samoa or Tonga will be one of the semi finalists, and I think both have the talent to knock over New Zealand or England if things go their way.
So lets get stuck into it shall we?
Growing up in Western Sydney I was lucky enough to watch and play alongside some great Islander players. One thing I always felt was that Tongans were pretty much made to play out great game.
As with all Tongans sides they have a wealth of talent in the back row that only the likes of Australia could top, and their backline is probably bigger than many other forward packs.
I’m tipping Tonga to be the team that really makes people sit back and wonder how far they can go. They have pretty much every area of the game covered short of experrience and game time together.
My top Tongan side would be:
1. Cooper Vuna
2. Etuate Uaisele
3. Michael Jennings
4. Fetuli Talanoa
5. Tony Williams
6. Feleti Mateo
7. Tevita Leo-Latu
8. Antonio Kaufusi
9. Eddie Paea
10. Lopini Paea
11. Mickey Paea
12. Epalahame Lauaki
13. Fraser Anderson
14. Manase Manuokafoa
15. Louis Anderson
16. Richard Fa’Aoso
17. Willie Manu
As you can see, this team is packed with talent. If they had been able to play a few lead in games, I’d take this side over England.
While Samoa is the hot favorites to win the group, I think Tonga will beat them to it. Their matchup with Samoa at Penrith Football Stadium is going to possibly be the game of the tournament.
Think of all the best Samoan players in Rugby League and you find a common theme. Big, good footwork and great ball handling skills.
Samoa are favorites to take out the group and its not hard to see why. Their side is packed full of professional players that have proven themselves at the highest levels over many years.
In the past, Samoa has been let down by their fitness, poor ball security and a lack of quality halves. This time around though they side will be steered around the park by former New Zealand halfback Ben Roberts and will have a lot more mobility in their forwards.
While they probably wont come out and publically say it, Samoa’s goal would be grabbing a semi final place. Most tip them as the best team outside of Australia, New Zealand and England, and if they can find the semi finals in good form they really could shock the likes of England and New Zealand if things go their way.
My top Samoan side would be:
1. Misi Taulapapa
2. Matt Utai
3. Smith Samau
4. George Carmont
5. Francis Meli
6. Nigel Vagana
7. Ben Roberts
8. Tony Puletua
9. Terrence Seuseu
10. Kylie Leulua’i
11. Joseph Paulo
12. Lagi Setu
13. Ben Teo
14. David Solomona
15. Ali Lauitiiti
16. David Faiumu
17. Willie Talau
The danger Samoa has is falling into the trap of playing the easiest football for them, and thats with big forwards throwing the ball out the back in every tackle. They need to have as much mobility in the forwards as possible and use their bigger ball players as weapons off the bench.
If Samoa can get good attacking play out of dummy half and good last tackle options, they will be very hard for any team to beat.
Only PNG could feel more hard done by than Ireland. They have been grouped with two very strong teams and to be honest, they will be lucky to win a game.
Made up mostly of English players, Ireland played some handy football at the 2000 World Cup and this time around there is a bit more polish in their side.
Ireland have already admitted that they can not win if they physically try to challenge Tonga and Samoa. Their plan is to use a bit more speed and skill to try and gain an advantage.
Still, they face an uphill battle. This is a learning process for many of their players and just another step in the development of Irish Rugby League.
While other web sites would list an Irish side here I won’t, I dont know enough about them to be honest.
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
Jan 20, 2020 0