Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
It is no surprise that Australia are firm favourites to take out this year’s Rugby League World Cup and win the tournament for a third straight time.
Unlike most other nations all of Australia’s talent will be picked from the NRL which is of course the world’s top Rugby League competition and gives the Kangaroos an advantage.
However, the last time Australia played in an International game they lost to Tonga Invitational XIII 16-12 in a historic match in early November 2019.
It was a huge upset and a courageous effort from the Tongan side that wanted so desperately to win, something that can’t be said about Australia who looked disinterested and underestimated their opponents.
New South Wales head coach Brad Fittler blasted the Kangaroos’ effort after the game during Channel Nine’s coverage.
Our Y5 children were so excited to attend the Rugby World Cup Impact Day this morning at Leigh Town Hall. They were able to get face to face with all the trophies & presented their mascot competition designs to some of the Rugby World Cup staff. @RLWC2021 @EnglandRL @WiganCouncil pic.twitter.com/UbM2qLxcGh
— Christ Church CE (@Christ_ChurchCE) May 13, 2022
“If Mal is fair dinkum, he is looking at that game thinking ‘we might need a few new players here’ because I thought some of their efforts were terrible,” said Fittler.
“They didn’t put their hands up in big moments and took really easy options and let each other down.
“They let Australia down, they let the jersey down and it was a really poor standard.”
It was later revealed that on the night before the game multiple Australian players were out riding scooters until the early hours of the morning, a sign that they were not giving Tonga the respect they deserved and did not prepare properly for the game.
At the Rugby League World Cup later this year Australia’s biggest threat will be themselves if their mentality from the game against Tonga is maintained.
The International scene is as strong as ever and if the Kangaroos put in a poor effort throughout the tournament then there are a handful of sides capable of eliminating them in the late stages of the tournament.
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) May 13, 2022
New Zealand and England will remain contenders while nations such as Tonga, Samoa and Fiji boast players that have improved immensely in recent seasons and deserve to be considered a real chance to win the World Cup.
Australia will be joined by Fiji, Italy and Scotland in group B.