As a fan of the Kangaroos, Saturday Night’s game was a close to a train wreck as Kangaroo performances get, yet there could not have been a better result for the Four Nations tournament, or the international game.
Before we all get too carried away with the big victory to our brothers across the Tasman, of course the Kangaroos were severely depleted.
If a full strength side had been available only Smith, Cronk, Thaiday and Bird would have been playing in their positions in the run on squad, but the fact is, you can only beat what’s in front of you.
For far too long the results of internations, bar the odd occasion where the Kangaroos were caught off guard by a far more desperate and committed Kiwi side, was all but a foregone conclusion.
Last year’s World Cup, for all the spectacle and hype, was going to be nothing but a dominate Kangaroo victory from the second the Kiwis ‘stole’ the trophy in Brisbane in 2008.
The ‘upset’ result this past Saturday Night, again in Brisbane, breathes new life into this tournament, and for the first time in years casts a slight aura of doubt over the Kangaroos.
I still fully believe that a full-strength Roos side would destroy any opposition in the world on any given day, however players like Gallen, Slater, Thurston and co. can’t play forever.
Last Saturday gave a glimpse into the future of the national side.
Despite copping a tirade on social media, Dylan Walker will surely remain an important part of the rep set up for the next few seasons.
Same too Josh Mansour, who I expect to be there in the reckoning once again come Origin time next season.
Despite the below par performance of the Kangaroos, they’ll still be heavy favourites to feature in the tournament final, which will surely be against New Zealand.
Quite simply put, if New Zealand are not able to win this tournament, the international game will suffer.
A severely under strength Aussie side beating the Kiwis in Wellington would surely kill all interest in future tournaments, other than those tuning in to see England and New Zealand battle for second spot.
Of course there’s a long way to go before a Kiwi vs Kangaroo final even eventuates, it’s entirely possible that England beat either, or both sides, and knock one out of the tourney.
The Kangaroos have plenty of improvement left in them. The loss of Inglis and DCE hurt them big time, as did the uneven bench, which should have featured more variety.
I really hope the Kiwis didn’t play their grand final in the tournament opener, and as much as I fully admit I want to see Cameron Smith lift that Four Nations trophy, surely for the future of the international game, a New Zealand or English win is what is best.
In other news, former Kangaroo Anthony Watmough has finally completed his switch to the Eels from the Sea Eagles.
Manly also announced they have signed Feleti Mateo, Willie Mason and Sosai Vave.
A 31 year old, albeit brilliant player in Watmough, swapped for two props and a player who could, if he finds consistency, could very well play rep football in the future?
No wonder the Sea Eagles have been a consistent feature in the finals in recent seasons.