In two days, the Rugby League Four Nations 2016 quadrangular tournament kicks-off. The contenders will each attempt to claim the prize.
England and their neighbours Scotland will host Australia and New Zealand in a month-long competition, with the finale on Sunday November 20, at Anfield, Liverpool.
Rugby League Four Nations 2016
With attention now on the four teams assembled in the United Kingdom, the emphasis goes on selection and on the conditions. England and Scotland are entering Autumn, so the ground conditions will determine what style of game is played.
HOSTS – England
With home support, this is a golden opportunity for England to assume a title not seen for many years. Always there or thereabouts, it is now the time to stand tall.
Always tough to beat at home, a familiarity with grounds and their style of play. Less offloading, more driving-play, recent coaching appointment Wayne Bennett will want to get the best out of his men. Brought in for his incredible coaching acumen, how he drives his philosophy with this group may be the biggest test of his career.
Skipper Sam Burgess. who served a one-match ban carried over from the NRL season in the final warm-up game in France will lead the team. He is one of a small handful of NRL players, however Bennett must also rely on homegrown talent to fulfill the promise.
England squad: Sam Burgess (c), John Bateman, Kevin Brown, George Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Liam Farrell, Luke Gale, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Josh Hodgson, Jonny Lomax, Jermaine McGillvary, Mark Percival, Stefan Ratchford, Dan Sarginson, Scott Taylor, Stevie Ward, Kallum Watkins, Elliott Whitehead, Gareth Widdop, George Williams.
GROWING TALENT – Scotland
Steve McCormack has plenty to choose from, when looking at his team selections. A growing talent pool of players who play in Europe or Australia means his side will charge out onto the field on Friday.
Captain Danny Brough will lead his Bravehearts out to face the Kangaroos. A large band of home fan support should give them a lift, which the Scots must hold for the entire match. That will the key–as much as controlling the formidable Aussie pack.
Full Scotland squad: Danny Brough (c), Danny Addy, Euan Aitkin, Ryan Brierley, Sam Brooks, Tyler Cassel, Lachlan Coote, Luke Douglas, Dale Ferguson, Ben Hellewell, Liam Hood, Ben Kavanagh, Kane Linnett, Ryan Maneely, Frankie Mariano, Billy McConnachie, Kieran Moran, Brett Phillips, Callum Phillips, Sheldon Powe-Hobbs, Matthew Russell, Lewis Tierney, Dave Scott and Adam Walker.
FORM TEAM – Australia
That form is based on prolonged rugby league. The English and Scottish sides will have recent games under their belts. The Kangaroos will feel comfortable they can resume immediately, the form that players took into the NRL finals series.
Cameron Smith must realize that the global game has caught up to his side [to a degree]. The old NRL myth that they could jog into a test and win, is well gone. If Australia do not bring their best for the clash against the Bravehearts, they could falter.
Attention to detail
Coach Mal Meninga will have selected this group to begin the tournament confidently. Start as they mean to continue, and apart from some jetlag, all the players will have the expectations of a nation following them. That factor could play on some players minds–but Meninga will surely motivate them to play for the pride of the jersey.
“I always planned to ensure the entire 24-man squad has played across the Perth Test and the Four Nations match against Scotland and that will set us up nicely for the rest of the tournament,” Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said.
Kangaroos squad to play Scotland: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Justin O’Neill, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Cooper Cronk, Aaron Woods, Cameron Smith (c), David Klemmer, Sam Thaiday, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic. Reserves: Jake Friend, Shannon Boyd, Trent Merrin, Michael Morgan , Valentine Holmes, Boyd Cordner.
WORLD #1 – New Zealand
Still holding their rank as World number one, the Kiwis are holding the mantle formed over two years ago. While every side has a peak, New Zealand will hope they can begin the tournament with a Bang!
Jesse Bromich will rely on his Warriors-heavy side to gel early. Time to build relationships must have been completed by Friday, because England certainly have the team bonding covered. They will come out of the blocks ready, so David Kidwell sure better have his selection certain…including the interchange bench.
The coaches ability to react during the match is critical. Time at the Storm and under former coach Stephen Kearney, he will need to bring those skills to the forefront. And immediately too–any team that loses, will be handing the advantage over. Three matches, you cannot any to lose any points this early.
New Zealand squad: Jesse Bromwich (c), Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, James Fisher-Harris, David Fusitu’a, Tohu Harris, Shaun Johnson, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Te Maire Martin, Manu Ma’u, Jason Nightingale, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Ladbrokes Rugby League Four Nations 2016
Game One: Scotland v Australia
Lightstream Stadium, Hull
Game Two: England v New Zealand
John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield
In 12 months time, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will be played out in New Zealand and Australia. The winning side in this years Four Nations takes a wealth of confidence into that tournament.
“Main photo credit”