Hosted in England, the Rugby League World Cup is underway, with 16 countries eyeing glory.
Group C consists of Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon and New Zealand.
Ireland will have two main choices for the fullback position in the World Cup. These two players will be Ed Chamberlain or Richie Myler. As neither player lists fullback as their primary position, they will both need to adjust to the position if need be. Chamberlain is the obvious choice to start, while Myler will play at halfback. However, no matter where they are on the field, they will be continuously looking for the ball.
Joining Myler in the halves is Sydney Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary. His arrival has made him the most important player in the line-up. Continuing his form from the second-half of the season, all eyes will be on him when the ball is in his hands.
The remaining backs will see Louis Senior and Innes Senior at wing and James McDonnell and Toby King in the centres, on the inside of the brothers. Playing in the Super League, the twin brothers have caused havoc for their respective clubs. They will be equally dangerous on both sides of the field.
Captain George King will step into the starting front-row alongside Wigan Wariors young-gun Liam Byrne. Having already made four appearance in the Irish jersey, Byrne has showed his dominance in attack during the Super League. King can play anywhere in the forwards, but will be most useful in the middle running the ball.
They will be receiving passes off hooker Josh Cook. Yet to play his maiden first-grade game for the Bulldogs, he will use the tournament as a stepping stone towards cementing his spot in the team. His determination to take risks could provide the team with great attacking opportunities.
James Bentley from the Leeds Rhinos will be one of two starting back-rowers. Previously lining up in the centres when he played for England, he will need to get more involved in the game. A good way for this to happen is to move him into the second-row.
Harry Rushton will take the other second-row position and James Hasson will play at lock. Rushton has been playing with the Huddersfield Giants, while Hasson has started to make a name for himself in the developmental system of the Rabbitohs. Providing the team strong options in attack and defence, they are useful on the outer sides of the ruck.
The quartet of Jimmy Jolliffe, Dan Norman, Frankie Halton and Henry O’Kane will make up the rest of the 17. Starting on the bench, all four players are capable of starting if the chance arises. If they can deliver a big performances in their first couple of games, don’t be surprised to see them move into the starting team as the World Cup progresses.
Jamaica will be without its star player Dominic Young, who decided to take his talents to England. With his exclusion, Huddersfield Giants fullback Ash Golding will need to stand up. The best player in the team will need to go looking for the ball rather than waiting for it to come to him. Normally a winger, he will have to adjust into the fullback role.
The wing will be made up of brothers Ben Jones-Bishop and Aaron Jones-Bishop. Aaron is looking to learn off his brother Ben, who has amassed 289 game in English rugby league competitions. Now past his prime, he needs to get back to the destructive winger he once was. Both brothers will be trying to outdo each other in the try-scoring category.
Dominic Young’s brother Alex Young will play in the centres with Joe Brown. Living in Dom’s shadow, he is ready to live up to his own hype. Brown will captain the squad and has had a solid year with the Bradford Bulls.
The two play-makers will be James Woodburn-Hall and Kieran Rush. Loaned out to England’s third-division, Rush is hoping to find his way back into the starting team at the Huddersfield Giants. A successful World Cup campaign will ensure this happens. Both halves will be relied heavily on their kicking ability, especially from their own half.
The forward pack will start with Ross Peltier and Bradley Ho in the front-row position, while Khamsi McKain and AJ Wallace will cover the back-row on the outer edge of the ruck. All four players showed their dominance in the World Cup qualifiers. Even though Peltier and Ho don’t play in the high levels of footy in England, they should not be messed with and will deliver in their tackles.
Lock Michael Lawrence and hooker Marvin Thompson will round out the starting team. Lawrence has the most experience, currently playing with the Huddersfield Giants. He will be the go-to leader in the team. Thompson adds ferociousness, and is known for playing hooker as well as halfback. He will help add an extra level to Jamaica’s play-making.
Jymel Coleman, Joel Farrell, Jordan Andrade and Keenan Tomlinson will be the players who make up the interchange. Coleman will come in as a backup hooker, while Farrell can play on the outer edges of the ruck at either centre or second-row. The other two will be good substitutes for the rest of the forwards and can add life into the game.
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Anthony Layoun will be given the chance to represent Lebanon at fullback. Currently playing in the Sydney Shield, there is little to know about Layoun, but he will bring his A-game to the World Cup. With him at fullback, Josh Mansour will be able to move back to his normal position of wing. Bulldogs rookie Jacob Kiraz will join him on the other side.
The two players have NRL experience, and can lean on one another during games. Don’t be surprised if all three players play in the fullback position sometime during their games.
The other spots in the back will be filled by Abbas Miski and Brad Morkos. Neither are shy from playing in the big moments, but are yet to be given the opportunity to do so. Miski comes from the Wigan Warriors academy system, whereas Morkos has been playing in the NSW Cup with the Canberra Raiders.
If Lebanon is to finish in the top two spots in its group, the halves pairing of Adam Doueihi and Mitchell Moses will be the key factor. Easily the two best players in the squad, they are coming off great years with their respective teams. Moses narrowly missed out on a Kangaroos jersey, while Doueihi was the sole shining light with the Wests Tigers.
The plays will be called by them. The positioning of the players will be called by them. Lebanon’s kicking game will be from them. They are the heart and soul of the Lebanon team.
Helping them in the spine will be young gun Michael Tannous. Battling injury this year, he is back in time for the World Cup. Training with Doueihi at the Tigers, he has been taken under the wing of new assistant coach and former Lebanon captain Robbie Farah. He has helped him drastically with his dummy-half game.
Accompanying him in the middle of the park are front-rowers Elie El-Zakhem and Hanna El-Nachar. El-Nachar is coming off a premiership in the Jersey Flegg with the Penrith Panthers. With multiple transfers happening at the club, he is ready to make a name for himself and get recognised.
The back-rowers will be Charbel Tasipale and James Roumanos, with Jalal Bazzaz at lock. Roumanos will lead the forwards with his experience. Tasipale will lead with his hard-work that can be seen in his games with the Newtown Jets, and Bazzaz with his excellent ball-running ability.
The bench will be made up of forwards Khalil Rahme from the Mounties, one of the most experienced members of the team in Kayne Kalache, and Jaxson Rahme, who has showed promise in the lower leagues at South Sydney.
Hooker Reece Robson will accompany them as the last member. Playing over 70 first-grade games, having him come off the bench will add a sense of flair to the team. He will be able to play a Harry Grant style of role and make an impact when the opposition gets tired in the middle minutes.
After a hat-trick earlier in the year against Tonga, Joseph Manu will keep his spot at the back of the field. Manu needs to have a good tournament as he tries to get out of the centre position with the Sydney Roosters, as teammates Joseph Suaalii and James Tedesco will also play a fullback role at the World Cup. There will be friendly rivalry between the three of them to see who is able to go further.
Experienced international Jordan Rapana will appear on the right-wing, and young high-flyer Ronaldo Mulitalo will play on the left side. The two players bring different skills to the team, but both are great under the high ball.
Helping them will be North Queensland Cowboy Peta Hiku and Parramatta Eel Marata Niukore in the centres. Hiku had five tries and seven try assists this season, helping the Cowboys clinch a spot in the top four. Niukore may need time to adjust to the centre position, but can break through the opposition defence with ease.
New Zealand boasts one of the best halves pairing in the competition. Dylan Brown is coming off a season-best year with Parramatta, where he led his side to a Grand Final appearance. Under the shadow of Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes is no longer a cult hero for the Kiwis, but the player to watch out for.
Brandon Smith leads the forward pack, which includes captain Jesse Bromwich and James-Fisher Harris. Both players can be utilised in a variety of ways throughout each of the 80 minutes. Raiders stand-out Joseph Tapine will appear at lock, even though he is normally seen as a front-rower. The forward utility and Dally M Prop of the Year has been a mainstay in the team since 2016.
The edge of the ruck will belong to Kenny Bromwich and Isiah Papali’i. The two second-rowers will join new clubs next season, and this is their best time to show them why they were bought. In particular, Papali’i was unlucky to miss out on Dally M Second-Rower of the Year. He has plenty to prove this World Cup.
Unlike many other teams, New Zealand’s bench players could easily slot into the starting team. Kieran Foran has played 22 times for the Kiwis, and will help substitute with any of the playmakers.
Coming straight from a premiership win, Scott Sorenson and Moses Leota have already showed fans what they are capable of. Rounding out the team is Storm starter Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who will be used in the middle of the game to continue the flow on both ends of the field.
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