Australia RLWC Favourites
Whilst Australia remain the firm favourites to retain the title during Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup, Wayne Bennett’s side should not be completely excluded from the possibility of toppling the apple cart. It’s hardly been a highly successful English campaign thus far, what with having struggled their way through group phases, enjoying patches of success and random bouts of failure. Be that as it may, Wayne Bennett has shown his side the way through their first final in twenty two years.
It all started with the very first match of the tournament when England managed to give Australia a run for their money. One thing led to another, and now England will be playing their first major final since 2011.
Suffice to say, even Parliament have gotten in the line of support behind their men.
England Up Against Multiple Challenges
All things considered, England hooker Josh Hodgeson will be sorely missed on Saturday. 28 year old Hodgeson sustained a knee injury when England went up against, and won, Tonga in a very dramatic 20-18 victory. A scan of Hodgeson’s knee revealed that he will most probably be sitting out of the action for a while yet and is likely to miss the start of the NRL season with Canberra as well.
The former captain has started in four out of five of England’s World Cup matches and it’s no secret that England will be starting out on Saturday worse for the wear because of his absence. James Roby will be the man expected to fill Hodgeson’s shoes. Roby started on the bench in the game against Tonga and has claimed that he is ready and able for the key role on Saturday.
The fact is, there are no other specialist hookers available for Saturday’s match and Wayne Bennett may very well call on the likes of George Williams or Stefan Ratchford to provide some much needed back-up when his side faces the Kangaroos.
Roby has said that he would even be ready to do a full 80 minutes if the situation on Saturday so required. Hodgeson isn’t the only concern as far as Saturday’s match goes. Captain Sean O’Loughlin is also an uncertain factor due to fitness issues after his having strained a thigh during the match against Tonga.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a good thing for Rugby League that two of the best teams have made it through to the final.
The future beckons indeed.
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