‘It would be huge’: What a World Cup win would do for Kiwis

06 Oct 22, 1:57PM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Photo by Getty Images

Kiwis assistant coach Steve Price believes a Rugby League World Cup win for New Zealand would do wonders for the sport in the country, and be a just reward after the sacrifices made during Covid-19.

The Kiwis are currently the top ranked nation in the world and head into the tournament on the back of a mid-season Test victory over Tonga.

New Zealand have assembled a squad brimming with elite NRL talent, including Roosters pair Joey Manu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Melbourne Storm quintet Brandon Smith, Jahrome Hughes, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and the Bromwich brothers, along with three players from NRL grand final winners Penrith.

With Australia rebuilding, and not having played a match since 2019, some are tipping the Kiwis as favourites heading into the World Cup in England.

“The boys had a really good result against Tonga,” Kiwis assistant coach Steve Price told Everything Rugby League.

“But Australia have got a fantastic team. There’s Tonga, Samoa, England, so it’s going to be a great World Cup. We’ll just keep preparing the best we can and keep working extremely hard, and have a bit of fun along the way. It’s good to be over here in England.”

Six players from the 2022 NRL grand final are in the New Zealand squad, including James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen from the Panthers, and Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’I and Marata Niukore from Parramatta.

“It’s amazing talent,” Price admitted.

“The speed the boys are generating now, the amount of force they generate in contact is quite alarming. I love it, I love the brutality that they bring.

“The quality from 1 to 24 is going to be some tough decisions for Madge to make over the coming weeks, but I’m sure that’s how he’d like it.

“The boys are in a good place, they’re fit, they’re healthy and gelling really nicely.”

The Warriors have not played a home game in Auckland for three years because of the pandemic.

Price believes winning the World Cup would be “huge” for rugby league in the Shakey Isles, after the hardships endured since 2020, especially at a time when the All Blacks have struggled.

“It would be huge,” the ex-St George Illawarra coach, who is assisting Michael Maguire with the Kiwis, said.

“New Zealand has gone through a lot – the Warriors have had to relocate, to Brisbane and to the Central Coast. Their fanbase has been neglected there for a while at Mt Smart Stadium, so the NZ people are very passionate about rugby league.

“The playing group and all the coaching group will be doing their best to get that World Cup trophy back to NZ.”

The Kiwis kick off their World Cup campaign against Lebanon on October 16 before facing Jamaica and Ireland.

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