Five things to be excited about come the RLWC: Part IV – Tier 2 Heroes

Lebanon Half

The North of England in October is usually known for a few things; the Premier League, grey skies and rain. This year, however, there will be one more thing, the 2021, or should I say the 2022-ish, Rugby League World Cup.

International football will soar to new heights after having the brakes so unceremoniously pumped, thanks to COVID. This year’s competition will feature 20 nations, 61 games and three formats of the game over a myriad of stadiums across the country’s North and looks to be the strongest World Cup yet. The mid-season Pacific Tests offered a tantalizing preview of what we can expect from some Tier 2 nations and the insanely stacked NZ Team. With the tournament’s commencement imminent and squads slowly being announced and whittled down to their final 24, here are five things that tickle my fancy in particular (and should probably tickle yours).

In this five-part series, I summarise the five most exciting things about this iteration of the rugby league world cup. You can read part one here, part two here and part three here.

Tier 2 heroes

Hercules completing the 12 labours, David withstanding Goliath and Benny the Jet besting the Beast in The Sandlot conjure up images of heroes fulfilling their destiny (albeit with much lower stakes for that last reference), and this tournament will be no different. We’ll see heroes stand up for their nation and heritage in a quest to deliver their team to the promised land.

One of these heroes will be the Fiji skipper and Rooster’s depth winger Kevin Naiqama, who will don the Bati jersey for the 21st time this October. South’s breakout halfback and Greece debutant Lachlan Ilias is on the other end of this spectrum. Ilias’ year has been under much scrutiny due to him replacing the almost irreplaceable former Bunnies’ number 7. Ilias is joined by fellow young Bunny Peter Mamouzelos, who has already run out in the blue and white a few times, yet never with the stage as big as a rugby league world cup. The sight of the young Greeks playing extended minutes together should be savoured by Souths fans who could be looking at half their future spine running around in group A.

The other NRL duo that looks set to partner with each other on the world stage includes Mitchell Moses and Adam Doueihi. The Parramatta and Tigers halves have played together for the Lebanon Cedars 4 times previously. However, this is the first time they will sport sequential jerseys. The Cedars have a surprising rugby league lineage spanning legends like Robbie Farah, Hazem El Masri and Tim Mannah. This, however, will be the first time their halves are comprised of 2 current NRL halves (this may also be a tortured viewing experience for Tigers fans who look at this as a depressing Marvelesque “What If”).

Both sets of spine players will be looking to advance out of the group stage and into the knockout, with Lebanon sitting as heavy contenders to take out the Group C runner, with only the Kiwis a more formidable side. Whereas Greece will be fighting against a motivated host England and the previously stated stacked Samoa outfit, one of these powerhouses may stumble out of the gate, and the Greek Bunnies are left standing on Olympus as heroes.

You don't have permission to register