Rugby League World Cup Preview: Australia

As we get closer and closer to the World Cup, the tensions are high and the expectations large, as supporters expect their nations to perform well.

With stronger smaller nations than ever before, the World Cup will not be all one-sided but the usual favourites in Australia, New Zealand and England, will be expected to perform on the big stage.

With the competition just 16 days away and a lot of teams boasting impressive players, here are some previews as to what their chances might be, starting with Australia.

Australia: Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans), Darius Boyd (Newcastle Knights), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Se Eagles), Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters), Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks), Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels), Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters), Luke Lewis (Cronulla Sharks), Brett Morris (St George Illawarra Dragons), Josh Morris (Canterbury Bulldogs), Nate Myles (Gold Coast Titans), Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos), Matt Scott (North Queensland Cowboys), Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm), Cam Smith (Melbourne Storm), James Tamou (North Queensland Cowboys), Brent Tate (North Queensland Cowboys), Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos) & Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys).

Coach: Tim Sheens.

For the Australian side, they go in as the overwhelming favourites for the competition. Boasting an elite squad of players with some of the best players you can expect to see in the NRL and the world, the expectation from many fans is that they can go all the way.

With star-studded speed, agility and experience in the back-line with the likes of Jennings, Inglis, Slater, Hayne and others, to their elite forward pack consisting of the likes of Matt Scott, Paul Gallen, James Tamou & Andrew Fifita, there are very, very few weak positions in this Australian side.

Couple that with the man that many perceive to be the game’s best player in Cameron Smith, and you have a side that on paper, looks comfortable in beating most international sides, something many would be expecting the Australians to do.

With the likes of England, Fiji and Ireland in their group, Australia would be expected to finish top and with three wins, though as the other World Cup sides show and in true World Cup fashion, that is not always the case.

All in all, a side of the quality of Australia in just about every position is one that should be dominant not only in their own group, but in the competition overall.

At full strength, here’s the Australian side that I would go with:

1. Billy Slater
2. Jarryd Hayne
3. Greg Inglis
4. Michael Jennings
5. Brett Morris
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. James Tamou
9. Cameron Smith (C)
10. Matt Scott
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Nate Myles
13. Paul Gallen

14. Daly Cherry-Evans
15. Luke Lewis
16. Andrew Fifita
17. Corey Parker

18. Boyd Cordner.

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