RLWC Teams Rd 2

One round done and dusted and Rd 2 promises to be just as entertaining. With some upset wins, some maiden wins and some genuinely good footy played by numerous sides, consolidating a good start is the key to success in a Rugby League World Cup. 

Rd 2 promises to be just as entertaining and with progression into the finals on the line, teams will want to work and play doubly hard to be there.

So, without further adieu, here are the teams for Rd 2 of the Rugby League World Cup:

Australia v France (#AUSvFRA & #RLWC2017); Canberra Stadium; Friday, November 3. Kick-off: 8 pm (AEDT).

Australia: 1. Billy Slater 2. Tom Trbojevic 3. Will Chambers 4. Josh Dugan 5. Josh Mansour 6. Michael Morgan 7. James Maloney 8. Jordan McLean 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Wade Graham 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Cameron Munster 15. Felise Kaufusi 16. Aaron Woods 17. David Klemmer.

Reserves: 18. Valentine Holmes 19. Matt Gillett 20. Boyd Cordner 21. Dane Gagai.

Coach: Mal Meninga.

France: 1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Fouad Yaha 3. Bastien Ader 4. Olivier Arnaud 5. Ilias Bergal 6. Remy Marginet 7. Theo Fages (C) 8. Maxime Herold 9. Eloi Pelissier 10. Julian Bousquet 11. Benjamin Garcia 12. Benjamin Jullien 13. Jason Baitieri.

Interchange: 14. Thibaul Margalet 15. Mickael Rocuh 16. Romain Naverette 17. John Boubedza.

Reserves: 18. Lucas Albert 19. Antonio Maria 20. Nabil Djalout 21. Lambert Delmas.

Coach: Aurelien Cologni.


New Zealand v Scotland (#NZvSCO & #RLWC2017); Christchurch Stadium; Saturday, November 4. Kick-off: 5 pm (NZDT) & 3 pm (AEDT).

New Zealand: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Jason Nightingale 3. Dean Whare 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Peta Hiku 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Martin Taupau 9. Elijah Taylor 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Joseph Tapine 13. Adam Blair (C).

Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Russell Packer 16. Addin Fonua-Blake 17. Danny Levi.

Coach: David Kidwell

Scotland: 1. Alex Walker 2. Lewis Tierney 3. Ben Hellewell 4. Lachlan Stein 5. Matty Russell 6. Danny Brough (C) 7. Oscar Thomas 8. Luke Douglas 9. Danny Addy 10. Ben Kavanagh 11. Jarred Anderson 12. Dale Ferguson 13. James Bell. 

Interchange: 14. Kane Bentley 15. Sam Brooks 16. Brandon Wilkinson 17. Johnny Walker.

Reserves: 18. Andrew Bentley 19. Callum Phillips 20. Shane Toal 21. Frankie Mariano.

Coach: Steve McCormack


Samoa v Tonga (#SAMvTON & #RLWC2017); Waikato Stadium, Hamilton; Saturday, November 4. Kick-off: 7:30 pm (NZDT) & 5:30 pm (AEDT).

Samoa: 1. Young Tonumaipea 2. Ricky Leutele 3. Tim Lafai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Joseph Paulo 7. Ben Roberts 8. Junior Paulo 9. Jazz Tevaga 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Josh Papalii 12. Frank Pritchard (C) 13. Leeson Ah Mau. 

Interchange: 14. Fa’amanu Brown 15. Zane Musgrove 16. Sam Lisone 17. Bunty Afoa.

Reserves: 18. Sam Tagataese 19. Frank Winterstein 20. Jarome Luai 21. Matt Wright.

Coach: Matt Parish.

Tonga: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Solomone Kata 5. David Fusitu’a 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Ata Hingano 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Siliva Havili 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Sika Manu (C) 13. Jason Taumalolo. 

Interchange: 14. Sione Katoa 15. Sam Moa 16. Peni Terepo 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila.

Reserves: 18. Ukuma Ta’ai 19. Manu Vatuvei 20. Konrad Hurrell 21. Samisoni Langi.

Coach: Kristian Woolf.


England v Lebanon (#ENGvLEB & #RLWC2017); Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney; Saturday, November 4. Kick-off: 8 pm (AEDT).

England: 1. Jonny Lomax 2. Jermaine McGillvary 3. Kallum Watkins 4. John Bateman 5. Ryan Hall 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Luke Gale 8. Chris Hill 9. Josh Hodgson 10. James Graham 11. Ben Currie 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Sean O’Loughlin.

Interchange: 14. Alex Walsmley 15. Chris Heighington 16. Thomas Burgess 17. James Roby.

Reserves: 1. George Williams 2. Mike McMeeken 3. Mark Percival 4. Stefan Ratchford.

Coach: Wayne Bennett

Lebanon: 1. Daniel Abou-Sleiman 2. Travis Robinson 3. Bilal Maarbani 4. Adam Douehihi 5. Abbas Miski 6. Mitchell Moses (VC) 7. Robbie Farah (C) 8. Tim Mannah 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Alex Twal 11. Chris Saab 12. Ahmad Ellaz 13. Nick Kassis. 

Interchange: 14. Mitchell Mamary 15. Ray Moujalli 16. Jamie Clark 17. Jason Wehbe.

Reserves: 18. Elias Sukkar 19. Anthony Layoun 20. Andrew Kazzi 21. James Elias.

Coach: Brad Fittler.


Papua New Guinea v Ireland (#PNGvIRE & #RLWC2017); Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby; Sunday, November 5. Kick-off: 4 pm (PGT) & 5 pm (AEDT).

Papua New Guinea: 1. David Mead (C) 2. Justin Olam 3. Kato Ottio 4. Nene Macdonald 5. Garry Lo 6. Ase Boas 7. Watson Boas 8. Stanton Albert 9. Kurt Baptiste 10. Luke Page 11. Rhyse Martin 12. Willie Minoga 13. Paul Aiton. 

Interchange: 14. James Segeyaro 15. Wellington Albert 16. Stargroth Amean 17. Enock Maki.

Reserves: 18. Moses Meninga 19. Lachlan Lam 20. Nixon Putt 21. Wartovo Puara.

Coach: Michael Marum.

Ireland: 1. Scott Grix 2. Shannon McDonnell 3. Ed Chamberlain 4. Michael Morgan 5. Liam Kay 6. Api Pewhairangi 7. Liam Finn (C) 8. Brad Singleton 9. Michael McIlorum 10. Kyle Amor 11. Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook 12. Oliver Roberts 13. George King. 

Interchange: 14. Tyrone McCarthy 15. James Hasson 16. Joe Philbin 17. Anthony Mullally.

Coach: Mark Aston.


Italy v USA (#ITAvUSA & #RLWC2017); Townsville Stadium; Sunday, November 5. Kick-off: 4 pm (local time) & 5 pm (AEDT). 

Italy: 1. James Tedesco 2. Mason Cerruto 3. Justin Castellaro 4. Nathan Milone 5. Josh Mantellato 6. Josh Campese 7. Ryan Ghietti 8. Paul Vaughan 9. Joey Tramontana 10. Daniel Alvaro 11. Joel Reithmuller 12. Mark Minichiello (C) 13. Nathan Brown. 

Interchange: 14. Christopher Centrone 15. Brendan Santi 16. Shannon Wakeman 17. Jayden Walker.

Reserves: 18. Gavin Hiscox 19. Richard Lepori 20. Christophe Calegari 21. Gioele Celerino.

Coach: Cameron Ciraldo

USA: 1. Corey Makelim 2. Ryan Burroughs 3. Junior Vaivai 4. Jonathan Alley 5. Bureta Faraimo 6. Kristian Freed 7. Tui Samoa 8. Eddy Pettybourne 9. David Marando 10. Mark Offerdahl 11. Danny Howard 12. Matt Shipway 13. Nicholas Newlin.

Interchange: 14. Sam Tochtermann-Talbott 15. Fotukava Malu 16. Steve Howard 17. Gabriel Farley.

Reserves: 18. Charles Cortalano 19. Joe Eichner 20. David Ulch 21. Joshua Rice.

Coach: Brian McDermott.


Fiji v Wales (#FIJvWAL & #RLWC2017); Townsville Stadium; Sunday, November 5. Kick-off: 6:30 pm (local time) & 7:30 pm (AEDT).

Fiji: 1. Kevin Naiqama (C) 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Taane Milne 4. Akuila Uate 5. Marcelo Montyoa 6. Jarryd Hayne 7. Henry Raiwalui 8. Ashton Sims 9. Apisai Koroisu 10. Eloni Vunakece 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Brayden Wiliame 13. Tui Kamikamica.

Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Junior Roqica 17. Ben Nakubuwai.

Reserves: 18. James Storer 19. Pio Seci 20. Salesi Faiinga 21. Sitiveni Moceidreke.

Coach: Mick Potter.

Wales: 1. Elliot Kear 2. Rhys Williams 3. Michael Channing 4. Christiaan Roets 5. Regan Grace 6. Courtney Davies 7. Danny Ansell 8. Craig Kopczak (C) 9. Steve Parry 10. Philip Joseph 11. Rhodri Lloyd 12. Joe Burke 13. Morgan Knowles.

Interchange: 14. Matty Fozard 15. Matty Barron 16. Ben Evans 17. Dalton Grant.

Reserves: 18. Josh Ralph 19. Ben Morris 20. Gavin Bennion 21. Andrew Gay.

Coach: John Kear.


 

Roosters get their man as Cronk signs 2-year deal

Cooper Cronk

It was rumoured for ages, lingered on for even longer but today, the Sydney Roosters have confirmed the signing of Melbourne Storm and representative half Cooper Cronk on a 2-year deal.

Cronk, who will go down as a legend of the Melbourne Storm after guiding them to numerous finals appearances and a couple of premierships, has surprised some with the move; many believing the Storm would be the only NRL club he would ever play for.

With 323 first-grade games to his name so far, the two-time Dally M Medallist is a huge signing for the Roosters, adding to their already impressive team.

The club were not about to hide their excitement, well aware of his talents and abilities as a player on and off the field.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of Cooper for the next two seasons,” said Roosters Chief Executive Joe Kelly.

“Cooper has played the game at the highest level for a number of years and we are keenly aware of what he brings to the Club.

Together with the established leaders within our squad, we see him as a wonderful addition to our roster.”

With his official duties as a Rooster to begin after the completion of the Rugby League World Cup, Cronk is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.

“It marks the start of a new chapter for me both professionally and personally and I look forward to joining my new teammates and coaches and immersing myself in the Club’s culture in lead-up to the 2018 season,” Cronk said.

 

Second half the key as New Zealand overpower Samoa

Shaun Johnson

Sloppy in the first half but clinical in the second, a flurry of tries in the second stanza made the New Zealand Kiwis win seem better than it was as they ran out 38-8 winners over Samoa in Auckland. 

As both teams produced dogged, determined first half performances, New Zealand only went into the lead holding a 6-point lead at 10-4.

On paper, the result may look flattering but the Kiwis will be lamenting many missed opportunities as they made a total of 17 errors with their game-plan often going awry.

As the Kiwis found their second wind, Samoa failed to keep up and will be lamenting their own missed opportunities with repeated errors coming out of their own half.

The Kiwis burst out of the blocks as tries to Jordan Rapana and Shaun Johnson gave them a 10-0 lead before Samoa hit back on the stroke of half-time.

A lovely cut-out ball found a rampaging Ken Maumalo who showed off his good finishing skills to give Samoa some confidence heading into the second half.

That confidence was soon shattered, however, as a three-try blitz to debutants Brad Takairangi and Isaac Liu, as well as Kodi Nikorima, gave the Kiwis a 16-point buffer.

The one sour note for the Kiwis was a severe leg injury to Gerard Beale, who was carried off on a stretcher with what is feared to be a broken leg.

Further Kiwis tries to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who reached out with Inspector Gadget-like arms, made the scoreline look good.

Samoa grabbed a consolation through veteran Joseph Paulo as the Samoans were left to rue missed opportunities throughout the contest.

He may have given his players a pass mark for their opening performance but Kiwis coach David Kidwell admits that his side must improve moving forward.

“We have got some [improving] to do, and the guys have recognised that,” Kidwell said.

“17 errors for the game, we are at the start of the tournament and that’s definitely something we need to work on.

“Completing at 62 percent, as we get through the tournament and play better quality teams, we need to make sure that we are a lot better in that area.

“We have got to be smarter in some of our passes and decisions.”

Samoan coach Matt Parish did not mince his words. He lamented his side’s pedestrian errors and knows it cost them the game and opportunities.

“You can’t toss garbage up and expect to compete, especially against a team that good,” Parish said.

“Our second-half performance, and look the Kiwis played very well, but we were our own worst enemies.

“We tried hard but we made schoolboy errors.”

3. Shaun Johnson

2. Isaac Liu

  1. Nelson Asofa-Solomona

New Zealand 38 (Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson, Brad Takairangi, Kodi Nikorima, Isaac Liu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Nelson Asofa-Solomona tries; Shaun Johnson 5 goals) def. Samoa 8(Ken Maumalo, Joseph Paulo tries) at Mount Smart Stadium. HT: 10-4. Crowd: 17,857.

PNG put on a show as they dismantle Wales

David Mead

If you had asked anyone prior to the game, ‘would Papua New Guinea win by 44 points,’ you might have been scoffed at or laughed at.

However, after what was nothing short of a breathtaking display, the Papua New Guineans put on a clinic from start to finish as they overpowered and outmanoeuvred a Welsh side who failed to keep up.

In front of a sell-out crowd of screaming, passionate Papua New Guinea fans, the humid conditions played right into their hands as they won 50-6 on the back of a David Mead hat-trick.

Although Wales did well to hold onto the ball, it was their lack of the killer punch that cost them and as Papua New Guinea began to assert dominance, they ended up with 62% of possession in the game.

The NRL experience in the Papua New Guinea side was on show as Mead, James Segeyaro, Nene Macdonald and Kurt Baptiste all had good games, guiding their side to victory.

The one sour note for Papua New Guinea was a biting allegation against Wellington Albert, with Welsh player Ben Evans making an official complaint.

As Papua New Guinea continued to assert their dominance with big hits, sturdy defence and huge attacking plays, the major talking point was David Mead and Rhyse Martin.

Mead became the first Papua New Guinean player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup and Rhyse Martin – with his 2 tries and 3 goals – now holds the record for the most points in a match by a Papua New Guinean player.

As the final hooter sounded, Wales got on the board after a fumble in defence that saw Regan Grace scoop the ball up to score.

Welsh coach John Kear was blunt in his assessment of his side’s performance; they were taught a harsh lesson.

“I think it’s been a very harsh lesson,” Kear said.

“The southern hemisphere fellas really do carry the ball very aggressively and, if you don’t stand up to that, you end up getting rolled and losing field position.

“We just never got any opportunity to attack because we couldn’t prevent the roll on from Papua New Guinea.”

Player of the Game:

3. David Mead

2. Rhyse Martin

  1. Wellington Albert

PNG Kumuls 50 (Mead 3, Martin 2, MacDonald, Ottio, W Albert, Olam, Aiton tries; Martin 5 goals) defeated Wales 6 (Grace try; Davies goal) at Oil Search National Football Stadium. Crowd: 14,800.

Late flurry sees the Kangaroos edge out England in RLWC opener

Billy Slater

Although the scoreline may have ended up 18-4 in favour of the Australian Kangaroos, it could be argued that it does not represent the entirety of the game itself. 

A gallant England went toe-to-toe with the Australian side, holding their own in defence for the most part and putting on some good attacking raids.

The bigger concern for England, however, is an MCL injury to star forward Sam Burgess who is in doubt for the remainder of the tournament.

Equally of concern but for the Roos, is a possible pectoral rupture to forward Jake Trbojevic. After a break-out season, Trbojevic was rewarded with selection for this tournament.

The match started like your traditional Australia v England clash; some back and forth action, some brutal defence and ticker shown by all.

The English side broke the deadlock as a cut-out pass found winger Jermaine McGillvary in the corner to score.

From then on, the Kangaroos enjoyed a lengthy period of dominance with the ball in hand and the English errors cost them, as Matt Gillett burrowed his way over the line.

The Kangaroos lead was extended after Billy Slater fought his way through a gap in the English defence as the Australians went into the break up 10-4.

Although the English attacking line peppered the Australian defence and kept them on their toes, a penalty against them allowed hooker and captain Cameron Smith to extend the lead to eight.

With a minute to go, Josh Dugan capitalised on an English error to run 70m to score and sealing the win for the Kangaroos.

Despite the loss, England coach Wayne Bennett was content with his side’s performance and believed they have improved in the last 12 months.

“I was pretty happy with it overall actually,” he said.

“A really top effort by the guys and a real Test match. We’ve improved a lot since London (12 months ago).”

He also praised his side’s determination and ability to deal with tough moments.

“Just the way they stuck at it a couple of times when they got into tricky situations, hung in there really good and played some good football,” he said.

“A lot of their errors they reduced. It’s still not where they want to be, but a huge improvement.”

Australian coach Mal Meninga admits that his side could be playing better but he was pleased with their attitude and to get the win.

“We could play better,” Meninga said.

“But I was pleased with our attitude and effort.

“We improved our defence late in the game when we were under the pump. England had a lot of field possession against us.

“We got a hard battle. A lot of fatigue amongst our players.

Player of the Game:

3. Billy Slater

2. James Graham

  1. David Klemmer

Australia 18 (Matt Gillett, Billy Slater, Josh Dugan tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals) defeated England 4 (Jermaine McGillvray try) at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. Crowd: 22,724. Half-time: 10-4.

Dragons half makes the jump to Leigh

Drew Hutchinson

On the cusp of a first-grade opportunity at the St George Illawarra Dragons just 18 months ago, injury struck at the wrong time for Drew Hutchinson. 

Instead, he was forced to go through lengthy injury rehabilitation over the course of the 2017 season and with speculation surrounding the Dragons back-up halves, Hutchinson has made the move to the Leigh Centurions.

The Championship side continues to go from strength-to-strength, having already signed Bodene Thompson and Paterika Vaivai from both the New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans respectively.

Head coach Neil Jukes praised the signing knowing that he comes highly rated as a half.

“Drew is an outstanding signing for Leigh Centurions,” said Jukes.

“He is a very highly rated and exceedingly talented halfback.

“Throughout his junior career Drew achieved everything he could do, with his club sides, playing for his state side and then being given the accolade of selection for the Junior Kangaroos.

As well as that, he showed outstanding leadership qualities for the teams he represented, which was recognised when he was handed the captaincy of the NSW Under-20s in 2015.”

Jukes went on to say that the club is pleased to have secured the services of such a talented halfback.

“Unfortunately, just as he was breaking into the first-grade side, he got an injury setback in 2017.

“From speaking to Drew, he is very ambitious to achieve many more things in his career.

The fact he has chosen Leigh Centurions, ahead of interest from many other clubs shows how far we have come as a club in the past few years.

“Drew will be an instrumental figure for Leigh Centurions in 2018 and beyond. He has all the qualities to forge a senior career as outstanding as his junior career.”

The new signing also pleased club owner Derek Beaumont.

“Drew is one I really wanted to land and I was as relieved as I was pleased and excited when Kez (Head Of Rugby Keiron Cunningham) forwarded me his contract,” said Beaumont.

Broncos captain & fullback signs new long-term deal to end career as a Bronco

Darius Boyd

One of the current club stalwarts and an influential player in the Brisbane Broncos setup, Darius Boyd has been through a lot to get to where he is and to become the player he is. 

In a boost for his club and for himself, Boyd has re-signed with the Broncos until the end of the 2021 season.

With 136 games to his name for the Broncos and countless Origin appearances and Kangaroos appearances respectively, Boyd felt privileged to have the chance to re-sign at the club.

“This club means so much to me,” said Boyd.

“I started my career here as an 18-year-old almost too scared to talk to my teammates and now I’m fortunate to be captain of a club that is one of the best in Australian sport.

“These next four years are exciting. We’ve got unfinished business. The Broncos set premierships as a benchmark and our fans know that’s what we’re playing for.”

In recent years, Boyd has opened up about some of the personal battles he has faced and how he overcame those and as a huge mental health advocate, Boyd wants to use this new deal as a means to help people deal with what he went through.

“This contract really helps me on my journey beyond football,” continued Boyd.

“I’m passionate about good mental health practices and this contract gives me the chance to further that work through the Broncos.

“I’ve been fortunate to visit workplaces across Queensland and the country talking about my mental health journey.

The cause means a lot to me and I look forward to meeting more Queenslanders through this work.”

It is no surprise that the club are pleased to retain him given his quality and calibre as CEO Paul White goes on to say.

“Darius has very quickly established himself as the leader of our club, and having him commit to another four years is a major statement on his intentions to finish the job he has started as captain,” said White.

“Darius has developed his maturity and leadership qualities both on and off the field, and we are all really proud of the work he continues to do in those areas.

“We took some extra time to work together in making sure we got this contract right for him, and we believe we have achieved that.”

Man of few words and coach Wayne Bennett also praised the signing given how crucial Boyd is to the Broncos side.

“It goes without saying the playing ability that Darius brings to the team but he also provides a heap of stability to the club and that shouldn’t be understated,” said Bennett.

Leigh continue to strengthen squad with signing of Titans forward

Paterika Vaivai

They clearly mean business in their bid to return to the Super League with the Leigh Centurions confirming the signing of Gold Coast Titans forward Paterika Vaivai on a 2-year deal.

In and out of the Titans side at times, when Vaivai was in the team, he performed well, carried the ball hard and did his job.

Born in Salamumu, Samoa, Vaivai had junior stints with both the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors, before joining the Newcastle Knights.

After drifting in and out of that team at the first-grade level also, Vaivai left to join the Titans having played just 6 games.

His 2012 Holden Cup season, in particular, was impressive, as he took out the Coaches’ Player of the Year Award at the Knights during that time.

Keen to beef up their forward pack, Vaivai is a signing that Leigh head coach Neil Jukes is excited about.

“Paterika is an outstanding signing for our Club,” said Jukes.

“He is an unbelievably powerful player and his explosive, direct running style will be really instrumental for our team next year.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the Leigh Centurions fans are going to really enjoy watching Paterika play for our Club and showcasing his ability.”

Equally, the club is excited to have him sign and expect him to make good inroads with the club’s fanbase.

“From speaking to him, it is clear that Paterika is a highly motivated player who is really looking forward to coming here and playing his best footy and the Coaching Staff will 100 percent support him in that objective,” continued Jukes.

“Again, I’d like to thank (Head Of Rugby) Keiron (Cunningham) for all the work he has done getting this one over the line. We have no doubt that Paterika is going to be a huge fans’ favourite.”

With a lot still ahead of his career, Leigh owner Derek Beaumont looks forward to watching Vaivai and his growth and development.

“I am really excited by this signing and have been since Kez (Keiron Cunningham) mentioned him to me,” said Beaumont.

“The biggest statement this club made when I got back involved was signing a man that good they named him twice, and he was a massive asset to this club and a fans’ favourite.

“I hope that the fans get the same excitement from Patty, especially given he is at the early part of his career and has lots in front of him. I can’t wait to see him get going for us.”

Titans extend Taylor’s contract to keep him at the club long-term

Ashley Taylor

One of the most hotly contested players on the market, the Gold Coast Titans knew they had to act prior to the November 1 free-for-all and they have. 

Boom half Ashley Taylor has re-signed until the end of the 2021 season on a lucrative deal.

Already signed for the 2018 season, the Titans acted swiftly to ensure that no other teams would be able to bid for Taylor, knowing full well that his worth to the team is invaluable.

In the end, despite the interest from elsewhere, Taylor admitted that he loved the club and wanted to keep playing with his current teammates.

“I love it here at the Titans and although it took a while to sort out the terms of the deal, I never really considered going anywhere else,” he said.

In addition to his affinity with the club, the opportunity to work with Garth Brennan who is the Titans new head coach was another big reason behind his decision to stay.

“It is a big relief to have a new coach in place,” continued Taylor.

“I’m really pleased with the appointment of Garth as I’ve had some personal involvement with him in the past.

“He’s a great communicator and has big plans for the future of our club, so I’m keen to get stuck in and make 2018 a success.”

With new coach Brennan keen to make his mark at the Titans, retaining Taylor was a key to building the club’s culture and attaining success.

“Ash is a tremendous young player and an outstanding footballer who is central to our plans and we look to build a winning culture here at the Titans,” said Brennan.

RLWC Teams Rd 1

Well, the momentous occasion has arrived. The Rugby League World Cup is here in all its glory and by gosh, is it slated to be a tremendous spectacle. Each team boasts their strengths and weaknesses and whilst the Kangaroos go in as favourites, can another team upset the apple cart?

With all that in mind, here are the teams for Rd 1 of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup:

Australian Kangaroos v England (#RLWC2017 & #AUSENG); AAMI Park, Melbourne; Friday, October 27. Kick-off: 8 pm (AEDT). 

Kangaroos1. Billy Slater 2. Dane Gagai 3. Will Chambers 4. Josh Dugan 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Michael Morgan 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Aaron Woods 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. David Klemmer 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Matt Gillett 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Wade Graham 15. Jordan McLean 16. Josh McGuire 17. Tyson Frizell.

Reserves: 18. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 19. Ben Hunt 20. Tom Trbojevic 21. Felise Kaufusi.

Coach: Mal Meninga.

England1. Jonny Lomax 2. Jermaine McGillvary 3. Kallum Watkins 4. John Bateman 5. Ryan Hall 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Luke Gale 8. Chris Hill 9. Josh Hodgson 10. James Graham 11. Sam Burgess 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Sean O’Loughlin (C).

Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley 15. Chris Heighington 16. Thomas Burgess 17. James Roby.

Reserves: 18. Ben Currie 19. Kevin Brown 20. Mark Percival 21. Scott Taylor.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Ricky’s View: The Australians go into this game and the competition as favourites but the English side are not to be underestimated. Boasting a try-scoring freak at the World Cup in winger Ryan Hall and a forward pack filled with NRL stars, the English should provide the Australian side with some stiff competition. Kangaroos by 2.


Papua New Guinea Kumuls v Wales (#RLWC2017 & #PNGWAL); Oil Search NSF Stadium, Port Moresby; Saturday, October 28. Kick-off: 3 pm (local time) & 4 pm (AEDT).

PNG: 1. David Mead (C) 2. Justin Olam 3. Kato Ottio 4. Nene Macdonald 5. Garry Lo 6. Ase Boas 7. Watson Boas 8. Stanton Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Luke Page 11. Rhyse Martin 12. Rod Griffin 13. Paul Aiton.

Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Willie Minoga 16. James Segeyaro 17. Enoch Maki.

Reserves: 18. Lachlan Lam 19. Stargroth Amean 20. Wellington Albert 21. Moses Meninga.

Wales: 1. Elliot Kear 2. Rhys Williams 3. Michael Channing 4. Andrew Gay 5. Regan Grace 6. Courtney Davies 7. Matt Seamark 8. Craig Kopczak (C) 9. Steve Parry 10. Phil Joseph 11. Rhodri Lloyd 12. Ben Morris 13. Morgan Knowles.

Interchange: 14. Matty Fozard 15. Sam Hopkins 16. Ben Evans 17. Chester Butler.

Reserves: 18. Josh Ralph 19. Dalton Grant 20. Christiaan Roets 21. Matthew Barron.

Coach: John Kear.

Ricky’s View: This is a fascinating clash. Both sides boast NRL and SL experience respectively, yet some are of the belief that outside of this game, neither is a genuine chance to go past the group stages. A win goes a long way in this tournament and both sides will be out to prove any doubters wrong. PNG led by Broncos utility back David Mead and Wales by Salford prop Craig Kopczak, both teams have a point to prove. PNG by 8.


New Zealand Kiwis v Samoa (#RLWC2017 & #NZLSAM); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday, October 28. Kick-off: 8:10 pm (local time) & 6:10 pm (AEDT). 

New Zealand: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Gerard Beale 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Martin Taupau 9. Thomas Leuluai 10. Adam Blair (C) 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Joseph Tapine 13. Simon Mannering. 

Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Russell Packer 16. Isaac Liu 17. Danny Levi.

Reserves: 18. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 19. Peta Hiku 20. Te Maire Martin 21. Addin Fonua-Blake.

Coach: David Kidwell.

Samoa: 1. Young Tonumaipea 2. Peter Mata’utia 3. Timoteo Lafai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Joseph Paulo 7. Ben Roberts 8. Junior Paulo 9. Jazz Tevaga 10. Sam Lisone 11. Josh Papalii 12. Frank Pritchard (C) 13. Leeson Ah Mau. 

Interchange: 14. Pita Godinet 15. Herman Ese’ese 16 .Suaia Matagi 17. Bunty Afoa.

Reserves: 18. Zane Musgrove 19. Ricky Leutele 20. Frank Winterstein 21. Fa’amanu Brown.

Coach: Matt Parish.

Ricky’s View: With several Kiwis players missing due to suspension, injuries or poor form, the side boasts some debutants and newcomers to World Cups but it is formidable nevertheless. With many of the hopes likely to hinge on Shaun Johnson’s creativity and the experience of their forward pack.
The Samoan side is not to be underestimated, though, for they boast some talent of their own. Littered with NRL and SL talent, they have the chance to cause some upsets and ruffle some feathers in the competition. Samoa by 2. 


Fiji v USA (#RLWC2017 & #FIJUSA); Townsville Stadium; Saturday, October 28. Kick-off: 7:40 pm (local time) & 8:40 pm (AEDT).

Fiji: 1. Kevin Naiqama (C) 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Taane Milne 4. Akuila Uate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jarryd Hayne 7. Henry Raiwalui 8. Ashton Sims 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Kane Evans 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Korbin Sims 13. Tui Kamikamica. 

Interchange: 14. Joe Lovodua 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Eloni Vunakece 17. Petero Benjamin Nakubuwai.

Reserves: 18. Brayden Wiliame 19. James Storer 20. Junior Roqica 21. Pio Seci.

Coach: Mick Potter.

USA: 1.Corey Makelim 2. Ryan Burroughs 3. Junior Vaivai 4. Jonathan Alley 5. Bureta Faraimo 6. Kristian Freed 7. Matthew Walsh 8. Eddy Pettybourne 9. David Marando 10. Mark Offerdahl (C) 11. Danny Howard 12. Matt Shipway 13. Nicholas Newlin. 

Interchange: 14. Sam Tochterman-Talbott 15. Andrew Kniesly 16. Steve Howard 17. Gabriel Farley.

Reserves: 18. Charles Joseph Cortolano 19. Joe Eichner 20. David Ulch 21. Joshua Rice.

Coach: Brian McDermott.

Ricky’s View: A young, budding US side that boasts a wealth of home-grown American talent, they will be looking to emulate their 2013 campaign as they surprised many and claimed scalps on their way to a quarterfinals berth. The question is; will it be enough to beat a strong Fijian side? This Fijian possesses numerous experienced NRL campaigners and their ambitions are bold and brave and they mean business; will their confidence echo their play, though? Fiji by 12


Ireland v Italy (#RLWC2017 & #IREITA); Barlow Park, Cairns; Sunday, October 29. Kick-off: 2 pm (local) & 3 pm (AEDT). 

Ireland: 1. Scott Grix 2. Shannon McDonnell 3. Ed Chamberlain 4. Michael Morgan 5. Liam Kay 6. Api Pewhairangi 7. Liam Finn (C) 8. Brad Singleton 9. Michael McIlorum 10. Kyle Amor 11. Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook 12. Oliver Roberts 13. George King. 

Interchange: 14. Tyrone McCarthy 15. James Hasson 16. Joe Philbin 17. Anthony Mullally.

Reserves: 18. Joe Keyes 19. Will Hope 20. Jack Higginson 21. Matty Hadden.

Coach: Mark Aston.

Italy: 1. James Tedesco 2. Mason Cerruto 3. Justin Castellaro 4. Nathan Milone 5. Josh Mantellato 6. Terry Campese 7. Jack Johns 8. Paul Vaughan 9. Ryan Ghietti 10. Daniel Alvaro 11. Joel Reithmuller 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Nathan Brown (C). 

Interchange: 14. Colin Wilkie 15. Brenden Santi 16. Shannon Wakeman 17. Jayden Walker.

Reserves: 18. Christophe Calegari 19. Christopher Centrone 20. Joey Tramontana 21. Gavin Hiscox.

Coach: Cameron Ciraldo.

Ricky’s View: Of all the sides regarded as minnows, the Italians, along with Fiji, are the team that many pundits believe have the best chance to pushing the top sides all the way and potentially beating them. Capitalising on the use of players not selected for the top sides, the Italians embody pride and spirit and will use that to fuel themselves throughout the competition.
Ireland, led by veteran Liam Finn, will use their own skills and luck of the Irish, to show that they are here to play and are not pushovers. Italy by 10.


Scotland Bravehearts v Tonga Mate Ma’a (#RLWC2017 & #SCOTON); Barlow Park, Cairns; Sunday, October 29. Kick-off: 4:15 pm (local) & 5:15 pm (AEDT).

Scotland: 1. Lewis Tierney 2. Matty Russell 3. Ben Hellewell 4. Lachlan Stein 5. Will Oakes 6. Danny Brough (C) 7. Danny Addy 8. Luke Douglas 9. Kane Bentley 10. Ben Kavanagh 11. Frankie Mariano 12. Dale Ferguson 13. James Bell. 

Interchange: 14. Callum Phillips 15. Andrew Bentley 16. Sam Brooks 17. Johnny Walker.

Reserves: 18. Alex Walker 19. Jarred Anderson 20. Kieran Moran 21. Brandon Wilkinson.

Coach: Steve McCormack.

Tonga: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Ata Hingano 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Siliva Havili 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Sika Manu (C) 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Sione Katoa 15. Sam Moa 16. Peni Terepo 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila.

Reserves: 18. Joe Ofahengaue 19. Solomone Kata 20. David Fusitu’a 21. Samisoni Langi.

Coach: Kristian Woolf.

Ricky’s View: The Pacific Island nations have all brought their a-games to this tournament. You only have to take one look at the depth of talent across that Tongan side to know that they will most certainly ruffle some feathers in the tournament. A huge pack of in-form forwards and an experienced back-line, if the team gels, the others may want to be on their toes.
Scotland, on the flip side, has a young team that will be eager to do their country proud and make a name for themselves as individuals and as a team. In the Rugby League World Cup, anything is possible. Tonga by 10.


France Les Bleus v Lebanon Cedars (#RLWC2017 & #FRALEB); Canberra Stadium; Sunday, October 29. Kick-off: 4 pm.

France: 1. Mark Kheirallah 2. Fouad Yaha 3. Bastien Ader 4. Damien Cardace 5. Ilias Bergal 6. Theo Fages (C) 7. William Barthau 8. Antoni Maria 9. Eloi Pelissier 10. Julian Bousquet 11. Benjamin Garcia 12. Benjamin Jullien 13. Jason Baitieri. 

Interchange: 14. Clement Boyer 15. Nabil Djalout 16. Thibault Margalet 17. Lucas Albert.

Reserves: 18. John Boubedza 19. Olivier Arnaud 20. Mickael Rouch 21. Romain Navarette.

Coach: Aurelien Cologni.

Lebanon: 1. Anthony Layoun 2. Travis Robinson 3. James Elias 4. Jason Wehbe 5. Abbas Miski 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Robbie Farah (C) 8. Tim Mannah 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Alex Twal 11. Chris Saab 12. Ahmad Ellaz 13. Nick Kassis. 

Interchange: 14. Mitchell Mamary 15. Elias Sukkar 16. Jaleel Seve-Derbas 17. Andrew Kazzi.

Reserves: 18. Adam Douehihi 19. Bilal Maarbani 20. Jamie Clark 21. Danny Barakat.

Coach: Brad Fittler.

Ricky’s View: Brad Fittler will certainly use all of his coaching experience and knowledge to get the Lebanese side performing strongly and led by Robbie Farah along with other NRL stars, they will put up a fight and be competitive, nor will they die wondering.
For the Les Bleus, World Cups are now second nature to them and whilst in the past, they may not have lived up to their own expectations, there is a belief that they can come together and perform. Lebanon by 2.