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Australian Rugby League manager Mal Minenga warns England: ‘We’re on track to win the World Cup’


When Australia and New Zealand withdrew from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup a year ago, a storm broke out.

As the two major countries said it was unsafe to travel to England during a pandemic, officials on those beaches were in a rage.

There were fears that the tournament, which ran for six years and was backed by 25 million pounds of government money, could be scrapped. Instead it was postponed for 12 months.

“The players would have liked to come in, but their health is important and their mental health in particular,” says Australia coach Mal Minenga. I.

Taking players away from their families, after the many sacrifices they have already made to ensure the continuation of the NRL competition [12 NRL teams were placed in a Covid bubble in Queensland last July]It wasn’t fair.

Postponing the World Cup was the right decision.

The fact that relationships have been repaired and flourished before this year’s realignment cycle says a lot about the healing nature of weather.

Thursday is 100 days away from the start of the World Cup on October 15, when England host Samoa at St James’ Park and Australia take on Fiji at Headingley.

“I think this will be the best and most comprehensive tournament ever,” Mininga adds. “You have men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments, so it’s a great opportunity for rugby league to become more global and reach new audiences, especially in England.”

Mininga was speaking in St Helens, where he spent an unforgettable season playing in the mid-1980s, as part of a planning expedition to the Australian base in Manchester this fall.

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He coached the Kangaroos to glory at the last World Cup in 2017 after their 6-0 final win over England in Brisbane.

“This was one of the best games I’ve ever been in,” the 61-year-old recalls. “Quality in attack, defense, control and desperation; that’s all about rugby league.

“Fortunately we won, but things could have gone either way.”

Much has changed since 2017, with iconic English strikers Sam Burgess, Sean O’Loughlin and James Graham retiring.

Legendary Australian trio Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith have also discontinued their shoes.

“England has the likes of Luke Thompson and Tom Burgess in the NRL and Elliot Whitehead, captain of the Canberra Raiders,” says Mininga, a Canberra legend since his playing days.

“Then you have all the kids from St Helen in the Premier League like Alex Walmsley and Johnny Lomax, and when you add John Bateman and George Williams, there’s a lot of experience and leadership.”

Australia will enter the World Cup without a warm-up match and have not played since 2019. The current three-match State of Origin series between Queensland and New South Wales will shape their preparations.
Tonga, who reached the semi-finals in 2017, are vying for some of the best talent in the National Football League and should be stronger this year, but Australia are the favorites to retain the title.

Mininga adds: “Winning competitions is what drives you as a player and the World Cup is an opportunity to make those dreams come true. We will come here by the end of the year to win.”

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England, note.


Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

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