After watching yesterday’s game between the Kangaroos and England, it would take a brave man to admit Australia were the better side. They were downright pedestrian as they were against the Kiwis last weekend. And they almost paid the ultimate price. Early elimination from the Four Nations tournament.
Yes, we won the game, albeit on a controversial call and one I thought was a try to Englands Ryan Hall, no matter how line ball it may have looked on the box. He got a finger to the ball and it looked to me as if there was downward pressure when he touched the ball.
If we are being honest with ourselves, England and New Zealand should be playing out the final of the Four Nations but that match up doesn’t really put a lot of bums on seats now does it? However, there is still a chance of New Zealand facing England should England defeat New Zealand by a superior score than Australia over Samoa (which is not a foregone conclusion I might add). More importantly, it would be the fitting final given the underwhelming play of the Kangaroos to date. Australia simply does not deserve to be there this year.
Australia lacked intensity against England as they did last week but the Poms weren’t as ruthless as the Kiwis and in the end, they came up agonisingly short but were still the better team. Yes, Australia has blooded some rookies this series and are without some established stars like Thurston, Hayne, Gallen, Slater and the Morris twins. However, players such as Dylan Walker have been downright average to say the least. Sure, there is always expectation to perform when you pull on the green and gold but at the moment, he isn’t up to the task and having been earmarked as a future Origin player, he has put a massive dent in his chances for next year regardless of how well he performs at club level.
The silver lining to all this is the relative mediocrity of the Kangaroos should revive some interest in the international game if Australia are seen as the deposed kings in exile and the Kiwis and Poms fight it out for Rugby League supremacy.
It is also testament to the NRL as half the English side now play in the NRL. Sam Tomkins, Tom and George Burgess, Gareth Widdop and James Graham are all proving their worth for their country and imagine if Sam Burgess was playing? He’d undoubtedly lift the Poms to another level. Hooker Josh Hodgson is on his way to Canberra so the quality of the English team should only continue to rise over the coming years and that is a positive for the game but there needs to be a structure of tours to the U.K. like there used to be back in the 80’s and early 90’s. I understand the seasons in Australia and the U.K. are now concurrent so the Kangaroos traditional matches against English club sides are unfortunately a thing of the past.
As an Aussie, the glass is half empty, as a fan of the international game, the cup runneth over!