Roll up and glory in the best

Rugby League will never have a better chance to capture the imagination than during this World Cup. Starting, as it is, on the back of a fantastic Super League final between St Helens and Wigan, this competition should raise the profile of the game. The tournament is the biggest sporting event of the next few weeks, so I am hoping the game will get the coverage it deserves.

Rugby League will never have a better chance to capture the imagination than during this World Cup. Starting, as it is, on the back of a fantastic Super League final between St Helens and Wigan, this competition should raise the profile of the game. The tournament is the biggest sporting event of the next few weeks, so I am hoping the game will get the coverage it deserves.

One thing that is absolutely sure is that the quality of the matches will be very high. I just hope the fans take the chance to go down to the stadiums to see the game at first hand. I would travel a long way to have a look at the Australian team, so to have them on our doorstep is very exciting.

They have not played in Britain for quite a while, so people should grab this rare opportunity to see some great players, like Brisbane's Darren Lockyer, who I think is the world's best full-back.

Australia are the firm favourites for the World Cup, and quite rightly so. They are a long way ahead of everybody else and have consistently proved they are the best around. It will take a monumental effort to stop them, and perhaps only New Zealand, with the Paul brothers, or England, with Andy Farrell, have the quality to be able to do it.

There is little doubt that the whole credibility of the tournament rests on the England-Australia match on Saturday evening at Twickenham. If Australia were to romp away with it, the risk is that the fans would then switch off from the tournament as a whole. League is like any sport, you don't want to go to a match knowing who the winner is.

The big question being asked over here is whether it would have been better for the four home nations to compete under the Great Britain banner, rather than individually. This is a tough issue. On the one hand, I believe that the decision to let England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland field separate teams will help boost the profile of the players in their respective countries. On the other, I am convinced it has severely dented Britain's chances of winning the event.

I know that England would have provided the majority of the Great Britain side anyway, but it is those five or six non-Englishmen who would have made all the difference. Having guys like Keiron Cunningham and Iestyn Harris of Wales, or Ireland's Tommy Martyn and Terry O'Connor, alongside the best English players would be like being able to pick Ryan Giggs to play on the left wing of the England football team. These players add that little something special to the side.

Other players to keep an eye on during the World Cup are the Lebanon's Hazem El- Masri, who I have seen play for my old team the Canterbury Bulldogs, and Adrian Lam, the Papua New Guinea winger who plays his club rugby for the Sydney Roosters. They are just two examples of excellent players whose teams could cause an upset or two.

Like all tournaments, some results are foregone conclusions. I would not be surprised, for example, if Australia put 100 points past Russia. Conversely, I wouldn't want to have to predict the winner of the New Zealand Maori-Samoa match up in chilly Cumbria. Look out also for the powerful Tongans.

Having played in the 1995 World Cup, I know exactly how special an event this is. Matches are quick, brutal and exciting. Not only that, but you also never quite know what's going to happen, as there are always five or six teams who are capable of performing on their day.

Wales' semi-final defeat by England at Old Trafford five years ago was my last rugby league match. I was sad not to make it to the final, but the World Cup is the ideal place in which take your final bow. There is no bigger stage.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain