USA begin World Cup with a win but talking point is the delayed telecast

Joseph Paulo

The focus post-game should be on the historic win by the USA Tomahawks led by Joseph Paulo’s stellar game – they won 32-20 against the Cook Islands – but instead, due to a technical glitch worldwide, the game was not shown live as initially planned but instead, it was delayed.

With the game not live, fans had no way in which to watch the game, leaving many fans distressed and angry, as the official Twitter account for the competition stated why the game was not live.

“There’s a technical issue with the TV feed on Premier Sports. They’re working hard to resolve it. We’ll let you know more when we can.”

Although many would have preferred the game to be live, it was eventually shown as the issue was sorted, albeit on delay by around 15 minutes.

“The issues this morning are being experienced all over the world not just @7Sport it is a major error from host broadcaster IMG,” Ryan Phelan, host of Seven’s World Cup coverage, tweeted.

In regards to the onfield action, it was a man-of-the-match performance from Tomahawks five-eighth Joseph Paulo that won the game for the US – he plays for the Parramatta Eels – as they got off to the perfect start in the competition.

For coach Terry Matterson – the USA’s third coach in the space of a few months – he was pleased that his side got the win.

“I don’t get overly emotional,” said Matterson.

“But with these guys and what they’ve done in the last three weeks, it’s really been quite amazing,” added the North Queensland assistant coach and one-time NSW State of Origin representative.

“…They have come together, they did not know each well at all and they went through some adversity.

“But we had a good trial win in France and we have had a great time together and I am so proud of these guys.

“All credit to them, it’s a real shot in the arm for US rugby league.”

Wolves forward signs new long-term deal at the club

Chris Hill

Retaining your club’s best players is crucial moving forward and in that category for the Warrington Wolves is international forward Chris Hill, who has signed a new deal to stay with the Wolves until the 2018 season.

Hill, who joined the Wolves in 2012 from the Leigh Centurions, has started his Warrington career with a bang, impressing fans and staff alike, as well as being named in the Super League Dream Team and gaining international honours.

Currently on tour with the England side at the Rugby League World Cup, Hill is excited to be staying on board with the Wolves.

“It’s a great club to be a part of, up there fighting for trophies. It’s a great all-round club to be involved in,” said Hill.

“I’m glad to have secured my deal and to be playing for the Wolves for the next five years. It’s down to the players I’ve played with and a great coach.

“The disappointment of how the last two years ended means we will be fighting once again next year to make it one step further in both competitions.”

When it comes to representing England, Hill also sees that as a massive bonus and an honour he cherishes.

“It’s every player’s dream to be involved in big games like these (RLWC),” said Hill.

“It was a dream come true to line up against Australia last weekend despite the loss and hopefully I can get selected again this week against Ireland.”

The club are equally excited to retain a player of Hill’s calibre, with Head of Coaching and Rugby, Tony Smith, looking forward to seeing Hill continue to impress.

“We are delighted that Chris has committed himself to the club for the next five years,” said Smith.

“He has been a recent success story in making the transition from the Championship into the Super League and now with England on the International scene.

We look to maintain a stable squad each year to keep building and striving to get better and better; Chris is one of a number of players who we have secured on a long-term deal and we are proud to be a club to which players are keen to commit.

We once again look forward to seeing Chris making an impact in the side for the foreseeable future.”

Scotland narrowly defeat Tonga in World Cup thriller

Danny Addy

Arguably the best game of the World Cup so far, the unheralded Scottish side have defeated a strong Island nation in Tonga, winning 26-24 in an absolute nail-biter.

It was a last gasp try for Scottish fullback Matt Russell – his 2nd – that got Scotland over the line, as the resilient Scots took the lead late on and never looked back despite a host of pressure by the Tongans.

At first, it was all one-way traffic for Scotland as they were in cruise control and raced out to a 20-4 lead but that was all about to change.

The first half belonged to Scotland but as for the second half, Tonga had all the momentum and eventually took the lead – back-rower Sika Manu scored a double – before Scotland’s late try won the game.

Despite Tonga having the ascendancy for large periods in the second half, Scotland coach Steve McCormack said his side was not about to give up and showed great fighting spirit.

“We were never going to give up. That ‘do or die attitude’ and the crowd really got behind us – when it really mattered the team dug deep,” McCormack said.

“We have got a bit of improving to do in all areas.”

Tonga had their chances to potentially score late on – to get two points at the very least – but after opting to go for the tap from a penalty, they could not score.

With goal-kicking ultimately the difference in the game – Tonga scored five tries to Scotland’s four – Manu said despite the disappointment of the loss, Tonga will bounce back.

“A bit disappointing not to go away with the win,” said Manu.

“We wanted to (go for the try at the end) but it didn’t happen. We’ll have to bounce back.”

Widnes back-rower signs 1-year deal with Bradford

Frank Winterstein

Currently on duty with the Samoan national side at the World Cup, you would not think that committing to a club side would occur but it has – with Frank Winterstein signing a 1-year deal with the Bradford Bulls.

Winterstein, who has spent the last two seasons at Widnes, is pleased to have the chance to join the Bulls next season.

“The Bulls have brought in some good signings and kept a couple of guys who were on loan there. They will definitely have a good squad next year and I’m looking forward to moving over,” said Winterstein.

“I’ve met Franny, his coaching team and all the backroom staff. I was really impressed with all the facilities at Tong and what their vision is to go forward.

“It’s a great club and hopefully we can bring it back to its glory days. It’s about gelling as a team and really pushing hard for a play-off spot.

When it comes to positions, Winterstein will play wherever is required and wherever is best for the team but if you ask him, the back-row is where he belongs.

“I’m definitely an edge back-rower,” said Winterstein.

“I’ve been thrown in at the centre a couple of times but I don’t really mind what happens – whatever is best for the team.”

The club themselves are pleased with the signing, with Francis Cummins – the Bradford coach – pleased to have signed the hulking forward.

“Frank is a great signing for us,” said Cummins.

“He is big and powerful but he has great skills and can play in a few positions.

“I was very impressed with him when I met him and I am sure he will prove to be a valuable member of our squad.”

Fiji start World Cup campaign with a win over Ireland

Kevin Naiqama

Boasting a side full of NRL experience, the Fijians overpowered an exciting Irish side, to kickstart their World Cup campaign with a win – after their 32-14 win over the Irish.

It was two Newcastle players that shone, with Akuila Uate nabbing a hat-trick and Kevin Naiqama producing a man-of-the-match performance to guide the Fiji Bati home.

With a tough match against the Kangaroos coming up, Fiji Bati coach Rick Stone says he wants a more polished performance from his players, knowing full well what the Australian side are capable of.

“The important thing tonight was to get a win,” Stone said.

“It was probably pretty ugly at times but the intent was great.

“At times we defended a little bit spasmodically and with too much emotion.

With the Island nations pleased to have the opportunity to play at and be represented at a World Cup, emotion can sometimes get the better of them and for Stone, he knows they have to curb this against the better sides.

“There was plenty of emotion in the game from our boys and that’s something we’ve got to control in the future if we’re going to be competitive against the better sides.”

With both Australian coach Tim Sheens and Scottish coach Steve McCormack both watching on, the game itself was an entertaining one and in front of a full-house, capacity crowd at Sportland Stadium – a crowd of 8800.

Whilst pleased with the efforts of his side, veteran Petero Civoniceva knows they played well but they have to be smarter and better moving forward.

“We’ve got to be a bit smarter with it but overall I’m very pleased with the efforts from the boys,” Civoniceva said.

To compound the loss for the Irish, talented fullback Scott Grix will undergo scans after an injury.

“He’ll go for a scan tomorrow,” Ireland coach Mark Aston said.

“It’s a short turnaround but we’ll patch them up and go again. We’re in the hardest group but we’ll look forward to it.”

Barba junior joins older brother at the Broncos

Marmin Barba

It will be a family affair in Brisbane and a move that might just appease Ben Barba and make him comfortable in Brisbane, with the Broncos signing Marmin Barba – the younger brother of Ben – on a 2-year deal.

With an impressive recruitment drive so far, signing Marmin strengthens the Broncos back-line stocks and halves stocks, with the young utility able to cover fullback and the halves.

The journey has not been an easy one for Marmin, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in his groin at just 19 but if he can win that battle – he overcame the cancer and is now better than ever – he can win any battle.

Andrew Gee, the Broncos Operations Chief, says Marmin was recommended to the club by manager Chris Orr and the club felt like it was a good move and fit.

“Marmin’s manager (Chris Orr) suggested him to us and we thought it would be a good idea,” Gee said.

“It will definitely be good for Ben from a welfare perspective to have his brother around the club.

“From all reports, Marmin is an outstanding young lad so it will be good to have him around.

“It’s always beneficial for any person to have support networks and it will be great for both Ben and Marmin to have each other at the club.”

Barba has also been a bit of a journeyman in his career, having played for the Parramatta Eels – when his cancer ordeal began – before moving to the Gold Coast Titans.

Despite his tough times – ones he has now overcome – his manager Gavin Orr believes the best of Marmin is yet to come.

“It was about family every step of the way and it’s worked out well for both of them. It’s a brand new start for Ben but it’s also a great new chapter for Marmin,” said Orr.

“Marmin will get a lot out of watching how Ben trains. Ben was Marmin’s weight a few years ago and Ben is now 92kg, while Marmin is about 78kg, so he has a long way to go.

“Marmin had bravely overcome cancer when the Titans threw him a lifeline. But it was a year of recovery because his knee didn’t come right until the last six weeks of the year, so the Broncos should get the best of Marmin.”

The tough times were not easy and just last year, Marmin said it was his brother Ben who offered all the support he needed during the ordeal.

“Ben’s pretty much the reason where I am in my career, he’s helped me out big time,” Marmin said.

“When I first got cancer, I thought that was it for me, my life was over. I had bad things running through my head, but within a few weeks they said I was cleared.

“Benny was a huge help for me. As soon as I heard I had it, I thought ‘I won’t be able to play sport ever again’, but Ben said stay positive.”

New Zealand open World cup campaign with win over spirited Samoan side

Dean Whare

They got the win they were after but it was not all smooth sailing for the New Zealand Kiwis side, as the Samoans gave them a run for the money and pushed hard, before succumbing 42-24 to the reigning World Champions.

In front of just under 14,000 passionate fans, it was New Zealand who burst out of the gates early, as they scored 22 points in as many minutes – leaving the Samoans rattled.

In true rugby league fashion, however, the Samoans bounced back and had a run of their own, scoring four tries in 15 minutes to give themselves a chance in the contest.

For Samoan coach Matt Parish, he thought that his side lost their composure and class in the first half and it cost them.

“At half-time, we needed to keep our composure. At times, we lost our way a little bit,” said Parish.

What did please him though, was the mass support his side had in the crowd, admitting he was touched when the crowd started singing and shouting out ‘Samoa’.

“When they brought the crowd into it, they rose to the occasion,” said Parish.

“To hear that crowd sing Samoa, I was touched by it.”

It was a back and forth game overall and one that New Zealand will be pleased to win but one that they will want to forget and instead improve on, if they are to retain their title.

Samoan fans can be proud of their teams’ effort, after they refused to lie down and fought back well, as several NRL stars in their side played starring roles.

For Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney, he knows there were some good parts and plays to his side’s structure, as he praised the efforts of Samoa during their run.

“There were some good parts where we stuck to our structures and processes and we did well,” said Kearney.

“But Samoa played really well for a 20-25-minute period in the second-half… and consequently put some tries on us.”

New Zealand 42 (Vatuvei 3, Mannering 2, Hoffman, Luke & Tuivasa-Sheck; Goals: Johnson 5) def. Samoa 24 (Leilua, Manumalealii, Matagi, Roberts & Winterstein; Goals: Milford 2).

Agar relieved as France hang on in a nail-biter against PNG

William Barthau

In true World Cup spirit, the entertainment and closely fought contests have continued, with the French side overcoming a spirited Papua New Guinean outfit to win the game by the narrowest of margins – 1 point – taking it out 9-8 after a field goal by William Barthau.

It could have very nearly been the other way around, though, as the Kumuls had a chance to snatch victory from the French had a late penalty goal attempt been successful but without a recognised goal-kicker, David Mead could not slot the penalty home, thus giving the French victory.

Whilst he knows his side needs improvement, French coach Richard Agar was pleased with their overall performance and how they managed to control the game for lengthy periods of time.

“If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have had many complaints had we lost,” said Agar.

“I thought we both played better into the wind and we actually played a good game tactically in the first half.

“We handled the conditions well and we worked really hard, but the way we controlled the game in the latter stages meant we had no chance to build any pressure.”

Victory can mean the world to players and it meant a lot to the French side, as they burst out in their national song in a very heartfelt fashion.

“There are tears in the eyes of some of the officials because I forgot (as Wakefield coach on a full-time basis) that France haven’t won too many Test matches lately,” Agar added.

“As a coach, some of that was heart-attack stuff and to work so hard and think with a minute to go we’re going to lose… The players are very pumped.”

Despite the miss by David Mead, who was obviously disappointed, PNG coach Adrian Lam was not dwelling on that nor blaming Mead for his side’s loss.

“I’m both proud and disappointed,” Lam said.

“If we kick the goal, it’s a great night, so now we have to pick ourselves back up off the ground. We couldn’t convert our opportunities.

“David is devastated. He’s a great young man and we spoke with him about how he’s not to blame. He is a big part of our side. He’s not a week in, week out goal-kicker and we don’t have one. That’s the problem.

“He’s blaming himself but there are a couple of other things we could have done better.”

With a relatively tough group and a game against Samoa coming up, Lam knows that his young side will need victory if they are to progress.

“We’re in a tough group but there is still an opportunity there and things may still swing our way,” former Wigan half-back Lam added.

“We have to play Samoa and win and the team spirit is as good as I have ever seen. We are a young side and I remain excited about that.”

France 9 (Thomas Bosc; Goals: Bosc 2; Field Goals: William Barthau 1) def. Papua New Guinea (Nene MacDonald, Josiah Abavu).

Italians overpower the Welsh late on and run out comfortable winners

Aidan Guerra

It was another entertaining World Cup clash and a good one to follow the Australia v England game, as the Italian side came from behind and scored 18 unanswered points to overpower the Welsh and take the game out 32-16.

Trailing 16-14, the Italians fought back well and were led by captain Anthony Minichiello and Roosters back-rower Aiden Guerra – playing in the centres – who nabbed a double.

The loss leaves the Welsh side needing to beat the USA and the Cook Islands to have a chance of progressing but as for the loss to Italy, coach Iestyn Harris concedes the better side won. .

“I thought the best side won, I think it’s fair to say that,” Harris said of the Azzurri, boasting Australians of Italian heritage.

“They had a bit more class in a few little key areas, but we’ve got a great spirit in the Welsh side. My players gave everything they got, and I won’t say anything against them.

“I thought we had an opportunity when we put our noses in front, but we dropped a couple of balls when we had a bit of momentum. When you have got momentum in games, you have got to take advantage and we didn’t do that.”

With the focus on the NRL players, it was an honest toiler who has bided his time waiting for NRL opportunity that took the spotlight, as winger Josh Mantellato scored a hat-trick.

With the first-up win a good start for Italy, coach Carlo Napolitano praised his experienced side.

“Playing in our opening game of the World Cup, it is very important to get off to a good start. I am very proud of my players,” he said .

“All we are thinking about now is next week and concentrating on Scotland. Then we will work towards Tonga.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself. You have to take it one step at a time.

“It wasn’t a perfect game of rugby league, but what is? We have got things we know we can improve on throughout the week, and that is what we will do. We will fix what we need to fix.”

Italy 32 (Mantellato 3, Guerra 2, Centrone, M. Minichiello; Goals: Mantellato 2) def. Wales 16 (Kear, Evans & Lloyd; Goals: White 2).

Kangaroos overcome rusty start to defeat England in World Cup opener

Johnathan Thurston

The biggest tournament in rugby league with the biggest names around the world taking part, there was bound to be some entertaining matches and the opening game between Australia and England did not disappoint, as the Australian side overcame a slow start to eventually defeat the English side, winning 28-20.

Trailing 10-0 at one stage, it was the English who had all the early running as they looked red-hot to start the game despite some troubles in the lead-up to the fixture.

With the game played at Millennium Stadium, the Kangaroos ultimately had too much firepower as Johnathan Thurston led his side to victory and played a starring role in their comeback.

The loss might be compounded for England further, with Sam Burgess facing suspension for a high tackle that forced Roos forward Sam Thaiday from the field.

Despite their win, Australian captain Cam Smith says his side has to improve moving forward.

“It wasn’t our best performance by a long shot,” Smith said.

“We were pretty ordinary to be blunt in that first 20 minutes but I was really happy with the boys’ composure.

“We were under a lot of pressure there but we found a way to come back.”

With the NRL season quite demanding and some players still feeling the affects of it, errors galore along with the mass amount of games over the year, both played a part in the Kangaroos early misfortunes.

“It wasn’t our best performance by a long shot,” Smith said.

“We were pretty ordinary to be blunt in that first 20 minutes but I was really happy with the boys’ composure.

“We were under a lot of pressure there but we found a way to come back.”

It was the Thurston show as he was involved in most of his side’s tries, with his performance the sort that Australian fans are expecting on a consistent basis.

For England, the disappointment in not finishing the job was evident, with coach Steve McNamara clearly disappointed that his side could not finish the job.

“We got a lot of positives from it, but there is a real sense of frustration that we didn’t quite go on and finish the job off,” McNamara said.

“We are frustrated. We started superbly and lots of energy. The two tries conceded before and just after half-time cost us.

“The possession cost us at times but if we play to our capability and respect the ball, we can have a crack in this tournament.”

Despite their loss, England were pleased with parts of their effort but captain Kevin Sinfield knows that the side can and will improve moving forward. .

“There is belief and unity in our dressing room,” said Sinfield.

“We will take enough out of this and respond.

“We can take some positives out of this and more importantly, we can improve.

Australia 28 (Thurston, Slater, Morris, Boyd & Bird; Goals: Thurston 4) def. England 20 (Hall, G. Burgess, Cudjoe & Charnley; Goals: Sinfield 2).