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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
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

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions