#sports activities Ex-England ace Jason Robinson reveals Papua New Guineans are the Rugby League’s TOUGHEST opponents
Rugby League is a tricky sport and there are no harder rivals in the sport than the males of Papua New Guinea, in accordance with former England and Great Britain ace Jason Robinson.
The ex-Wigan man ought to know. He received 19 worldwide caps in League and has come up in opposition to opponents from scores of nations in a profession that spanned 16 years and each codes of rugby, however in his estimation, the Pacific Islanders are the hardest of all of them.
Papua New Guinea promise to be a shock package deal at the Rugby League World Cup, which is able to open on October 15 at St James’ Park, when England tackle Samoa.
Ouch! Ex-England ace Jason Robinson believes Papua New Guineans are the hardest
Robinson says that most of the time in his profession he bought ‘dumped’ by the Pacific islanders
‘They don’t all the time look large, however if you happen to run into any Papua New Guinean participant, then greater than possible they’ll simply choose you up and dump you,’ says Robinson. ‘It’s like working right into a automotive.’
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The event, which is able to see male, feminine and wheelchair athletes competing concurrently of their respective competitions for the first time, has the potential to be certainly one of the finest in the World Cup’s 88-year historical past.
As properly as Papua New Guinea, Tonga, New Zealand, Samoa and England shall be out to beat the odds and steal Australia’s crown.
Robinson performed in the Rugby League World Cup for England in 1995, shedding in the closing to Australia, earlier than successful the Rugby Union World Cup in 2003, beating the Wallabies Down Under.
‘I am unable to wait. I’ve been fortunate sufficient to do it as a participant. And now I’m fortunate to be watching it,’ mentioned Robinson, who’s an envoy for the Rugby League World Cup and sponsors Vodafone.
‘I want I used to be 20 years youthful and in a position to play. There shall be some better atmospheres.
‘There are the males’s, ladies’s and wheelchair competitions. There has by no means been a World Cup in any sport the place they’ve all run at the identical time. It is nice.’
Robinson relishes these tournaments for testing the finest gamers to their limits, but additionally for locating new skills and experiencing the totally different kinds groups convey the event.
This 12 months’s competitors, delayed for 12 months on account of the Covid pandemic, brings collectively 32 groups throughout the three competitions.
In the males’s event, which is able to culminate in the closing on November 19 at Old Trafford, Australia are, as traditional, the sizzling favourites to raise the Paul Barriere trophy.
However, Robinson says there are a number of credible challengers this time round: Greece are set to turn into each followers’ second favorite staff; Papua New Guinea will thrill with their all-power sport and the house crowd may simply roar England to victory. The ex-England flyer tells Sportsmail what he’s wanting ahead to at RLWC22.
Robinson performed for Great Britain and England, shedding in the 1995 World Cup closing to Australia
Hard-hitting Papua New Guinea
Nicknamed the Kumuls, Papua New Guinea are going to be a handful and so they are planning on springing some surprises.
Rugby League is the nationwide sport on the Pacific Island nation and the gamers are as passionate as their followers.
They are additionally amongst the hardest and strongest rivals Jason Robinson has ever confronted.
No approach via… Papua New Guinea love a deal with and play in a confrontational fashion
Stanley Gene (pictured at Bradford Bulls) was certainly one of the Super League’s hardest rivals
‘Papua New Guineans are so sturdy. I do not know what it’s about them. Normally you’d affiliate [that strength] with the Tongans and Samoans, however the Papua New Guineans have it, too.’
A well-liked Papua New Guinean participant throughout Robinson’s period was Stanley Gene, whose taking part in profession encompassed Hull KR, Hull FC, Huddersfield, Bradford and Halifax.
‘He was not tall, not the greatest, however he was the strongest participant, pound-for-pound I’ve ever performed in opposition to,’ recalled Robinson.
‘In Super League gamers used to inform you, ‘Man, do not run into Stanley Gene’. He was simply so sturdy, robust and resilient.’
Gene was capped 16 occasions by the Kumuls, which interprets as ‘birds of paradise’, in a 17-year profession and not too long ago left the teaching workers of Hull KR.
England knocked Papua New Guinea out of 2017 World Cup in Australia. Pictured: Kevin Brown
The Kumuls get pleasure from extraordinary help, too, which supplies their gamers an additional edge.
‘It shall be the first time a few of these gamers have come to the UK and they are going to be buzzing,’ mentioned Robinson. ‘It is their nationwide sport. It is a chance for them to create one thing. If Papua New Guinea can do properly, they’ll return as heroes. Real heroes.’
In June, PNG recorded a formidable 24-14 win over Fiji, which has additional boosted the confidence of squad and followers.
Lachlan Lam celebrates after scoring a attempt for Papua New Guinea in opposition to Fiji in Sydney
‘For the gamers who placed on that jersey it means much more to them than lots of people perceive,’ Leigh half-back Lachlan Lam advised LoveRugbyLeague.com.
‘We’re positively able to turning over groups that individuals would not anticipate us to.
‘Last time we made the quarter-finals for the second time ever and we received all three of our pool video games. This 12 months we shall be seeking to go a bit bit higher than that.’
Papua New Guinea are at the moment ranked fifth in the world.
Australia Can Be Beaten
Australia could also be favourites (once more), however they are beatable, insists Robinson. However, they’ve so many good gamers that defeating them is a frightening job.
‘You may title about 100 good gamers for Australia,’ chuckles Robinson, however he picks out full again James Tedesco and half-back Daly Cherry-Evans as two key people.
Australia have contested 14 of the 15 Rugby League World Cup finals since 1954, successful 11 of them. And Robinson admits the Kangaroos have high quality in each place and can ‘outmatch anyone’.
Reigning world champions Australia have ‘100 good gamers’, says Robinson
‘They like confrontation, there shall be a number of sledging and banter,’ he mentioned. ‘They include a confidence that the majority groups haven’t got. They anticipate to win. That is the place the battle is for everybody else.’
But the former England winger believes that the Kangaroos might be tripped up.
‘Sometimes groups give them an excessive amount of area,’ he mentioned. ‘Even the finest groups might be put underneath stress. They could make errors. You have to maneuver up, shut the area, you can not cling off them.
‘When you are defending you need to punish them, be bodily. Let them realize it won’t be simple for them. When they take the ball in, it won’t be on their phrases. There are a number of battles you need to win.
‘And don’t give the ball away. Play in the proper areas of the area. It is tough, however that’s what World Cups are.’
England Must Believe
Great Britain have received the Rugby League World Cup on three events, however England are but to style victory in a closing since the house nations began competing individually in 1995.
England have been shedding finalists that 12 months, when Robinson performed in a 16-8 defeat to Australia at Wembley, and in 2017 when the Kangaroos received once more, 6-0, in Brisbane.
But this time, Robinson hopes that house benefit and a charismatic and skilled coach in former Wigan boss Shaun Wane will make the distinction.
Robinson, pictured for Wigan, received and misplaced in opposition to Australia and says England should consider
‘Of course, England can win,’ Robinson advised Sportsmail. ‘Whenever you point out Rugby League, Australia will all the time be up there as favourites. But underneath Shaun Wane, he’ll be sure that these guys shall be able to go.
‘It is a house event, which is very large. I used to be fortunate sufficient to play in 1995 and we bought to the closing. It was certainly one of the finest experiences of my life.’
England have some battle-hardened gamers of their ranks. Among them, NRL stalwarts, second row Elliott Whitehead, 32, who has made 154 appearances for Canberra Raiders and prop Tom Burgess, 30, who has amassed 207 matches for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, in addition to captain and full again Sam Tomkins, 33, who performs for the Catalans Dragons.
‘There are high quality gamers in the England staff, however it has to convey out the finest in all of them,’ added Robinson. ‘England have a superb probability. I’m massively excited. A World Cup can change your life,’ mentioned Robinson, who lifted the Rugby Union World Cup with England in 2003.
The British crowd goes to be essential for the success of England and the different house nations.
UK followers are extra vocal than these in different international locations, even Australia, the place Rugby League has a much bigger following.
‘When the crowd are behind you there is no such thing as a higher feeling in the world,’ mentioned Robinson. ‘The crowd could make a large distinction. When the crowd goes, you are feeling as sturdy as a bear.
‘It makes you are feeling invincible. Why would you simply run 30 metres and go head first into three guys who are 6ft 4ins and 17 or 18 stone? It is the buzz of the crowd that makes you are feeling such as you are the strongest man in the world.
Robinson scored a attempt in opposition to Australia in a win in the group phases of the 1995 World Cup
Robinson believes English Rugby League followers are finest in the world and may make a distinction
‘It might be that roar from the crowd that will get you thru the subsequent 5 minutes when you’ve got your backs to the wall.
‘But you need to use that benefit. As a participant, you have an effect on them. Do a tremendous run or a giant hit and also you get them up out of the seats. You need them nearly working at the aspect of you.’
England will hope the followers can spur them on as they did in Euro 2022, when the nation united round the Lionesses.
Tonga Are Stronger…
The New Zealanders, second favourites and at the moment ranked primary in the world as results of the shake-up brought on by the Covid pandemic, will give Australia a run for his or her cash.
But it’s Tonga which have caught the eye of Robinson amongst quite a lot of exterior bets.
Tonga are a power to be reckoned with and their squad options stars from the NRL and Super League, together with a number of gamers who’ve elected to play for his or her heritage nations somewhat than Australia and New Zealand, the place they have been born or introduced up.
Tonga are critical rivals at this World Cup, having gone to Australia and received in 2019
Tonga might have narrowly misplaced to England 20-18 in the semi finals of the 2017 event, however they not too long ago overtook the host nation in the IRL rankings and sit second.
Coach Kristian Woolf has named a 38-man provisional squad, which shall be trimmed to 24 for the competitors.
‘They have some large boys, some large hitters,’ mentioned Robinson. ‘We have seen at earlier World Cups; Tonga have been actually tough to beat. You can see that being the case this time. They will trigger a number of upsets.’
Tonga are favourites to high their group, which incorporates Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Wales and are anticipated to face England or Samoa in the quarter finals.
But in June, Tonga misplaced to the Kiwis on a raucous night time in the New Zealand capital Auckland
No quarter was requested for or given at the Mt Smart Stadium and the Kiwis wouldn’t be denied
Woolf believes Tonga, who beat Australia of their final aggressive match in 2019 however misplaced to New Zealand in June, have an opportunity in the event that they play to their potential.
‘The staff we are going to place collectively for Tonga, that’s one thing to get enthusiastic about and sit up for as a result of I feel we have a squad that is going to be very laborious to beat,’ mentioned Woolf, who can be coach of Super League aspect, St Helen’s.
Here Come Samoa!
England face Samoa in the first sport of the event and it is going to be an enormous take a look at for the host nation.
In truth, England coach Shaun Wane has claimed the Three Lions go into the sport as ‘large underdogs’.
A clutch of established NRL gamers have additionally switched allegiance from Australia and New Zealand to characterize their Samoan heritage.
Samoa are ranked seventh in the world and like to hit laborious, in accordance with Jason Robinson
‘That should be certainly one of the strongest squads in the World Cup,’ claimed Wane in an interview with LoveRugbyLeague.com.
Samoa are ranked seventh in the world, however the itemizing has been difficult by the Covid pandemic. The Samoans haven’t performed a Test match since 2019.
‘It is a giant sport,’ admits Robinson. ‘In a super world you want to a simple one, however that isn’t going to be simple. Samoa may trigger so many groups an upset, particularly on that opening day.
‘They are a staff to observe. They have gotten a number of gamers to decide on, whether or not on the island or the heritage gamers. They have a number of good gamers.
England coach Shaun Wane claims the host nation shall be the underdogs in the opening sport
‘From their perspective, most individuals will flip as much as that first sport and need England to win. England can put a marker down and present the remainder of the world what they are about, however the flipside is Samoa can go there and suppose everybody goes to again England.
‘First sport, all eyes on the opener, let’s go. They love the confrontation. They love placing in large hits and taking gamers out. If Samoa beat England on the first day the entire event could possibly be modified.’
You Gotta Love Greece!
Greece is about to turn into everybody’s second favorite staff.
The nation is competing in its first Rugby League World Cup and no staff has fought more durable to earn their proper to be right here.
Until final month, Rugby League was banned in Greece after the fledgling Greek Rugby League break up in 2012, and the competitors was decreased to simply 4 groups. Under Greek regulation, there must be at the very least 20 golf equipment for a sport to be classed as a federation sport.
Greece (darkish blue) certified for the Rugby League World Cup regardless of the sport being banned
In practise it meant matches couldn’t be marketed or promoted. Incredibly, video games have been banned and needed to be performed in secret with the police in sizzling pursuit.
‘The story is simply ridiculous,’ says Robinson. ‘They needed to play underneath the radar. It is unbelievable. It is like they have been shunned. They needed to play all occasions of the day or night time.
Games have been raided and damaged up, in accordance World-Wide Sports Australia. For a World Cup qualifier in opposition to Malta in 2018, the Greek staff stored the location of the match underneath wraps till the final second, solely revealing it to the driver of the opposition staff bus on the eve of the fixture.
‘They won’t have the strongest staff however crowds will get behind them and undertake them.’
Jason Robinson is an envoy for the Rugby League World Cup and sponsors Vodafone. He is supporting the Pride of Your League competitors, which goals to rejoice volunteers in the sport’s grass roots.