With the NRL done and dusted for another year, the focus for turn to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, and exciting times as the 2017 Rugby League World Cup squads are being named.
This is the first Rugby League World Cup in Australia since 2008,
There are 14 teams involved this time around, the big three are of course playing in Australia, NZ and England. Then there’s the powerhouse Pacific Nations of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and our favourite PNG. Wrapping it up are some more teams from either side of the Atlantic, with varying degrees of support from the NRL players.
After a big couple of weeks cheering for the PNG Hunters with their Intrust Super Cup premiership win and State Championship loss, it’s time to turn to the Kumuls. We already have a more in depth look at their squad in a separate piece.
But we are excited about the whole Rugby League World Cup. It is something different from the weekly NRL, and is not yet over-hyped like State of Origin. And Channel Nein don’t have the TV Rights.
Here then are the team/squad lists for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Which we will update as some of the squads continue to be named. We throw in a few points of interest and thoughts on how each team will go.
The 2017 Rugby League World Cup Squads
AUSTRALIA (POOL A)
Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi, Jordan McLean, Will Chambers (Melbourne Storm), Darius Boyd, Ben Hunt, Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos), Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons), James Maloney, Valentine Holmes, Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters), Michael Morgan (North Queensland Cowboys), Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), David Klemmer (Canterbury Bulldogs)
COACH: Mal Meninga
NAME YOU KNOW: All of them
PLAYER TO WATCH: Michael Morgan. Where will the player who was arguably the player of the NRL Final Series play in the final 17? If at all.
POINT OF INTEREST: Will the Kangaroos be a dominant force that demolishes every team? Complacency doesn’t appear to be a problem under Big Mal.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 27/10 v England – 3/11 v France – 11/11 v Lebanon
CHANCES: Should win, and probably will. But the failure of 2008 still lingers. Except that Mal is in charge now.
ENGLAND (POOL A)
John Bateman (Wigan), Kevin Brown (Warrington), Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess (both South Sydney), Ben Currie (Warrington), Luke Gale (Castleford), James Graham (St George), Ryan Hall (Leeds), Chris Heighington (Cronulla), Chris Hill (Warrington), Josh Hodgson (Canberra), Jonny Lomax (St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield), Mike McMeeken (Castleford), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan, captain), Mark Percival (St Helens), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington), James Roby (St Helens), Scott Taylor (Hull FC), Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Kallum Watkins (Leeds), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra), Gareth Widdop (St George), George Williams (Wigan).
Coach: Wayne Bennett
NAME YOU KNOW: Josh Hodgson, Gareth Widdop, Sam Burgess
PLAYER TO WATCH: Can Sam Burgess lead England out of World Cup mediocrity into glory as he did at South Sydney. He is the man to watch.
POINT OF INTEREST: Can Supercoach Wayne Bennett work his magic?
1st ROUND MATCHES: 27/10 v Australia – 4/11 v Lebanon – 12/11 v France
CHANCES: Should finish second in the pool, which means they meet the winner of Pool C, potentially PNG. Then NZ in the semis if they win. That will be as far as they get. If they beat C1. We say Kumuls for an upset. Of course we would.
FRANCE (POOL A)
Lucas Albert, Jason Baitieri, Julian Bousquet, Nabil Djalout, Benjamin Garcia, Thibaut Margalet, Fouad Yaha (Catalans Dragons), Bastien Ader, Clement Boyer, Mark Kheirallah (Tolouse Olympique), Maxime Herold, Mickael Rouch (Limoux Grizzlies) Guillaume Bonnet, Damien Cardace (FC Lezignan), Olivier Arnaud (SO Avignong), William Barthau, John Boudebza (London Broncos), Antoni Maria, Eloi Pelissier (Leigh Centurions), Hakim Miloudi (Hull F.C), Gadwin Springer (Castleford Tigers), Theo Fages (St Helens), Benjamin Jullien (Warrington Wolves), Romain Navarrete (Wigan Warriors)
Coach: Aurelien Cologni
NAME YOU KNOW: Regular viewers of the English Super League will know the Catalans players, us more ignorant fools will have to get to know them.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Julian Bousquet – the prop can get a bit fiery so look for the fireworks.
POINT OF INTEREST: The game against Lebanon shapes as a key. The French side has some great European and English experience, but is lacking any NRL quality.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v Lebanon – 3/11 v Australia – 12/11 v England
CHANCES: Will come down to the game against Lebanon which has a few more NRL stars, and we say 0/3 for the French and an early exit.
LEBANON (POOL A)
Mark Daoud (Asquith), Jamie Clark, Ahmad Ellaz, Abraham el Zakhem, Elie el Zakhem, Adnan el Zbaidieh (Auburn Warriors), Mario Boustani, Chris Saab, Nick Kassis (Blacktown Workers), Kayne Kalache, Michael Lichaa, Raymond Moujalli (Canterbury Bankstown), Imad Chidiac (Jounieh RLFC), Ben Chahoud (Hills Bulls), Wael Harb, Raymond Sabat (Lycans FC), Bilal Maarbani (Manly Sea Eagles), Abbas Miski (North Sydney), Anthony Layoun, Tim Mannah, Mitchell Moses (Parramatta), Adam Doueihi, Robbie Farah (South Sydney), Ali Abou Arabi (Tripoli RLFC), Danny Barakat, Mitchell Mammary, Tarek el Masri, Elias Sukkar (Wentworthville), Alex Twal, Bernard Kairouz, Jaleel Seve Derbas, Christian Yassmin (Wests Tigers), James Elias (West Newcastle), Toufic el Hage (Wolves RLFC)
Coach: Brad Fittler
NAME YOU KNOW: Mitchell Moses, Robbie Farah
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mitchel Moses. Did Parramatta make him look good or is he the real deal?
POINT OF INTEREST: Some NRL experience built around local Sydney players and some from actual Lebanon.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v France – 4/11 v England – 11/11 v Australia
CHANCES: We say they beat France and make it to the next round where they will likely face NZ in NZ.
NEW ZEALAND (POOL B)
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Gerard Beale (Cronulla Sharks), Adam Blair (Brisbane Broncos), Kenneath Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles), Peta Hiku (Warrington Wolves), Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors), Thomas Leuluai (Wigan Warriors), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters), Simon Mannering (New Zealand Warriors), Te Maire Martin (North Queensland Cowboys), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kodi Nikorima (Brisbane Broncos), Russell Packer (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders), Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels), Joseph Tapine (Canberra Raiders), Martin Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles), Elijah Taylor (Wests Tigers), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers)
Coach: David Kidwell
NAME YOU KNOW: Most of them. Plenty of NRL players scattered throughout the squad.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Obvious one is Shaun Johnson, but looking forward to seeing Martin Tapau in combat mode.
POINT OF INTEREST: After how ordinary the Warriors were in 2017, the Kiwi rugby league fans need something to cheer about. Like the Warriors, they have plenty to offer on paper. In the hardest pool, and Samoa and Tonga won’t be easy.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v Samoa – 4/11 v Scotland – 11/11 v Tonga
CHANCES: Should finish top of the pool, but have some tricky games against powerhouse teams Tonga and Samoa, and in Scotland they face a team they only drew with on their last trip overseas.
TONGA (POOL B)
Andrew Fifita, Mahe Fonua, David Fusitu’a, Siliva Havilli, Ata Hingano, Will Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, Michael Jennings, Solomone Kata, Sione Katoa, Samisoni Langi, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sika Manu, Manu Ma’u, Sam Moa, Ben Murdoch Masila, Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai Junior, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sio Suia Taukieaho, Jason Taumalolo, Peni Terepo, Daniel Tupou, Manu Vatuvei
Coach: Kristian Woolf
NAME YOU KNOW: Andrew Fifita, Will Hopoate, Michael Jennings, Jason Taumalolo and more.
PLAYER TO WATCH: The defectors Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo
POINT OF INTEREST: The real dark horse for the tournament. Two teams go through to next round from Pool B, and we think they can top it. Semi Final minimum.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v Scotland – 4/11 v Samoa – 11/11 v NZ
CHANCES: Should clear the group, and then it comes down to the mouth watering clash against Samoa for second. Second get the winner of Pool D, likely Fiji. We also can’t rule out them topping the group and beating NZ.
SCOTLAND (POOL B)
Coming soon – October 10.
Coach: Steve McCormack
NAME YOU KNOW: TBA
PLAYER TO WATCH: TBA
POINT OF INTEREST: TBA
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v Tonga – 4/11 v NZ – 11/11 v Samoa
CHANCES: In the toughest pool, but still likely to have some NRL quality. Did draw with New Zealand last time they met. But can’t see them winning any of their first three games.
SAMOA (POOL B)
Frank Pritchard (c), Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Faamanu Brown, Herman Ese’ese, Pita Godinet, Joseph Leilua, Ricky Leutele, Sam Lisone, Jarmoine Luai, Suaia Matagi, Peter Mata’utia, Sione Mata’utia, Ken Maumalo, Tautau Moga, Zane Musgrave, Josh Papalii, Joseph Paulo, Junior Paulo, Ben Roberts, Sam Tagataese, Jazz Tevaga, Young Tonumaipea, Matthew Wright
Coach Matt Parish
NAME YOU KNOW: Plenty of names you know with a good helping of NRL talent.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Tautau Moga, really hit his stride with the Broncos in the second half of the year.
POINT OF INTEREST: Tonga v Samoa for sure.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v NZ – 4/11 v Tonga – 11/11 v Scotland
CHANCES: As per Tonga, it is all likely to come down their big game against them.
IRELAND (POOL C)
Liam Finn (c), Scott Grix (vc), James Hasson, Kyle Amor, Liam Kay, Will Hope, Oliver Roberts, Ed Chamberlain, George King, Toby King, Joe Keyes, Joe Philbin, Jack Higginson, Anthony Mullally, Tyrone McCarthy, Brad Singleton, Micky McIlorum, Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook, Api Pewhairangi, Matty Hadden, Shannon McDonnell, Casey Dunne, James Kelly, Alan McMahon, Mikey Russell (Travelling Reserve)
Coach: Mark Aston
NAME YOU KNOW: Super League fans will know Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook who has played nearly 300 games in the UK Super League. He has previously played twice for England.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Liam Finn, a quick Google search will likely send you to the musician, but the rugby league player for Ireland is their captain, and most experienced player with 362 games across the English rugby league divisions and 24 Tests for Ireland.
POINT OF INTEREST: The match v Wales and getting to know the relatively unknown squad.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v Italy – 5/11 v PNG – 12/11 v Wales
CHANCES: Could win two of three games, but wouldn’t think they could beat Kumuls.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA (POOL C)
Ase Boas (SP PNG Hunters), David Mead (Brisbane Broncos), Enock Maki (SP PNG Hunters), Garry Lo (Sheffield Eagles), James Segeyaro (Cronulla Sharks), Justin Olam (Melbourne Storm), Kato Ottio (Canberra Raiders), Kurt Baptiste (Canberra Raiders), Lachlan Lam (Sydney Roosters), Luke Page (Burleigh Bears), Moses Meninga (SP PNG Hunters), Nene MacDonald (St George Illawarra Dragons), Nixon Put (SP PNG Hunters), Paul Aiton (Catalan Dragons), Rhys Martin (Canterbury Bulldogs), Rod Griffin (Canterbury Bulldogs), Stanton Albert (SP PNG Hunters), Stargroth Amean (SP PNG Hunters), Thompson Teteh (Redcliffe Dolphins), Wartovo Puara Jnr (SP PNG Hunters), Wellington Albert (SP PNG Hunters), Watson Boas (SP PNG Hunters), Willie Minoga (SP PNG Hunters)
Coach: Michael Marum
NAME YOU KNOW: David Mead, may appear small but is very tough and the side’s captain. Look on Youtube for his hit on a Fiji player from 2016.
PLAYER TO WATCH: It could only ever be one – Willie Minoga. The Grand Final hero gets a go for the Kumuls. Surely Michael Marum will keep his impact on the bench.
POINT OF INTEREST: Their three home games in Port Moresby. Hopefully they will be televised, and we’d love to be there for the atmosphere.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v Wales – 5/11 v Ireland – 12/11 v USA
CHANCES: Should top Pool C, and we say they stretch England in the knockout round. If not win.
WALES (POOL C)
Larne Patrick (Castleford Tigers), Zak Williams (Coventry Bears), Courtney Davies, Steve Parry, Lewis Reece (all Gloucestershire All Golds), Danny Ansell (Hunslet), Sam Hopkins (Leigh Centurions), Michael Channing, Ben Evans, Dalton Grant, Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (all London Broncos), Josh Ralph (Newcastle Knights), Matty Barron (Newcastle Thunder), Joe Burke (Oldham), Caleb Aekins, Daniel Brown (both Penrith Panthers), Ant Walker (Rochdale Hornets), Craig Kopczak (Salford Red Devils), Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles), Morgan Evans, Connor Farrer, Andrew Gay, Christiaan Roets (all South Wales Ironmen), Regan Grace, Elliot Jenkins, Morgan Knowles, Ben Morris, Calvin Wellington (all St Helens), Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions), Jake Emmitt, Dan Fleming (both Toronto Wolfpack), Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves), Gil Dudson, Lloyd White (both Widnes Vikings), Phil Joseph (Workington Town), Matty Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
Will trim their squad to 23 players on October 10.
Coach: John Kear
NAME YOU KNOW: Intrust Super Cup fans in Queensland, and especially fans in the Chook Pen at Wynnum will know the halfback Matt Seamark.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Rhys Williams is Wales’ leading all time try scorer, and has a very handy 18 Tries in 23 Games.
POINT OF INTEREST: Assembled mainly from lower division English ruby league sides, it will be interesting to see if Wales could potentially unearth a new star.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v PNG – 5/11 v Fiji – 12/11 v Ireland
CHANCES: Hard to see them beating the two Pacific Island nations, but the Ireland game looks a good one for victory.
FIJI (POOL D)
Kane Evans, Salesi Faingaa, Jarryd Hayne, Tui Kamikamica, Villiame Kikau, Apisai Koroisau, Joe Lovadua, Henry Raiwalui, Taane Milne, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Marcelo Montoya, Kevin Naiqama (c), Ben Nakubuwai, Mikaele Ravalawa, Junior Roqica, Jacob Saifiti, Ashton Sims, Korbin Sims, Pio Seci, James Storer, Akuila Uate, Eloni Vunakece, Suliasi Vunivalu, Brayden Wiliame (Standby Replacement: Etuate Bola)
Coach: Mick Potter
NAME YOU KNOW: Jarryd Hayne
PLAYER TO WATCH: Viliame Kikau. Impressed for Penrith in NSW Cup and NRL State Championship.
POINT OF INTEREST: Can Jarryd Hayne sign off an awful 2017 in style. Having received some blame for the Origin loss, and all the blame for Neil Henry’s sacking he gets a chance to do something good before the season is out.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v USA – 5/11 v Wales – 10/11 v Italy
CHANCES: Should top Pool D, and then could cause nuisance value in the knockout stages.
USA (POOL D)
Jonathan Taylor Alley (Central Florida Warriors), Ryan Burroughs (Toronto Wolfpack), Charles ‘CJ’ Cortalano (White Plains Wombats), Joseph Eichner (Toronto Wolfpack), Bureta Faraimo (NZ Warriors), Gabriel Farley (Philadelphia Fight), Kristian Freed (White Plains Wombats), Daniel Howard (Wentworthville Magpies), Stephen Howard (Mounties), Martwain Johnston (Delaware Black Foxes), Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight), Corey Makelim (Mounties), Fotukava ‘Hiko’ Malu (Atlanta Rhinos), David Marando (Belrose Eagles), Nicholas Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos), Mark Offerdahl (London Broncos), Edward Pettybourne (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Joshua Rice (New York Knights), Matthew Shipway (South Newcastle), Samuel Tochtermann-Talbott (Tweed Heads Seagulls), David Ulch (Tampa Mayhem), Taioalo Junior Vaivai (Illawarra Wests Devils), Matthew Walsh (White Plains Wombats)
Coach: Brian McDermott
NAME YOU KNOW: Eddy Pettyboure is a name for NRL fans to know,
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Burroughs. Scored 5 tries on debut in the US competition and 33 tries in 10 games. 7 tries in 10 for Toronto Wolfpack this year isn’t bad either.
POINT OF INTEREST: Seeing some of the USA Teams represented in the squad. The USA have tried to pick as many locals as they can. Our favourite team we didn’t know until now is the White Plains Wombats from New York.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 28/10 v Fiji – 5/11 v Italy – 12/11 v Port Moresby
CHANCES: Looks like it will come down to the game against Italy for second place.
ITALY (POOL D)
Daniel Alvaro (Parramatta Eels), Mirco Bergamasco (Leoni Veneti), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Christophe Calegari (Palau XIII Broncos), Jack Campagnolo (Northern Pride), Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues), Justin Castellaro (Northern Pride), Gioele Celerino (Saluzzo NWR/Tully Tigers), Chris Centrone (Wyong Roos), Mason Cerruto (Penrith Panthers/St Marys), Ryan Ghietti (Northern Pride), Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors), Jaume Giorgis (Saluzzo NWR), Gavin Hiscox (Central Queensland Capras), Jack Johns (Newcastle Knights), Richard Lepori (Oldham), Josh Mantellato (Wyong Roos), Mark Minichiello (Hull FC), Nathan Milone (Wests Tigers), Giuseppe Pagani (Lions Brescia), Ricardo Parata (Burleigh Bears), Dean Parata (Blacktown Workers), Emanuele Passera (XIII of the Ducato), Edoardo Pezzano (Spartans Catania/Tully Tigers), Kieran Quabba (Townsville Districts Blackhawks), Joel Riethmuller (Northern Pride), Brenden Santi (Sydney Roosters/Wyong Roos), James Tedesco (Wests Tigers), Joe Tramontana (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jayden Walker (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Colin Wilkie (Northern Pride), Shannon Wakeman (Huddersfield Giants)
Coach: Cameron Ciraldo
NAME YOU KNOW: James Tedesco.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Nathan Brown. Parramatta’s barnstorming forward had a brilliant 2017 for the Eels and can use this World Cup to push for Origin claims.
POINT OF INTEREST: James Tedesco again. Player’s player in the NRL will add some real quality to the Italians. Also great to see him surrounded by players that are from Italian teams.
1st ROUND MATCHES: 29/10 v Ireland – 5/11 v USA – 10/11 v Fiji
CHANCES: Hard to see them beating Fiji, but an outside chance of toppling the USA.