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Australia’s defence of the Rugby League World Cup gets underway this morning when they take on Fiji at KCOM Stadium in Hull. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 5:30am (AEDT).
There has been plenty of talk about this Kangaroos team in the lead-up to the World Cup. The discussion has ranged from the lack of mongrel up front, to the non-selection of Nicho Hynes and Dylan Edwards, and even the numbering of the jumpers – which, admittedly, is more than a little wacky.
But the real business gets underway now and you get the sense that Australia may have a number of worthy challengers. New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa all have squads that can go all the way, and you can’t discount England at home.
Don’t get me wrong, Australia still has a very strong team. The Australian pack will be looking to achieve parity in the ruck. If they can do this, Harry Grant and Cameron Murray will be working on quick play the balls.
From there, the likes of Cameron Munster, James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Valentine Holmes can create havoc for opposition teams.
Fiji come into the World Cup ranked 6th, and they made it as far as the final four in 2017. The squad has plenty of first-grade experience, including Viliame Kikau, Apisai Koroisau, Kevin Naiqama, Mikaele Ravalawa, Maika Sivo, Tui Kamikamica, Sunia Turuva, Semi Valemei and Brandon Wakeham.
I don’t give them much chance against Australia, but they will go in as hot favourites against Scotland and Italy in their other pool games. They should make the quarter-finals at least.
The Kangaroos will be keen to get themselves into gear quickly in the World Cup and the match-up against Fiji is perfect in that respect.
We can expect plenty of Fiji passion early and the opening exchanges will likely be tight.
However, as the game progresses, this Australian team should just be too clinical for their opponents.
I’m expecting plenty of points late in a big Australian win.
Australia to win by 40.
1 James Tedesco (captain), 9 Josh Addo-Carr, 8 Latrell Mitchell, 4 Valentine Holmes, 23 Murray Taulagi, 7 Cameron Munster, 2 Daly Cherry-Evans, 18 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 3 Ben Hunt, 5 Jake Trbojevic, 17 Angus Crichton, 22 Jeremiah Nanai, 11 Cameron Murray
Interchange: 10 Jack Wighton, 13 Patrick Carrigan, 16 Reuben Cotter, 20 Harry Grant
Reserves: 12 Matt Burton, 19 Campbell Graham
Kevin Naiqama, Sunia Turuva, Semi Valemei, Viliame Kikau, Apisai Koroisau, Isaac Lumelume, Pio Seci, Lamar Manuel-Liolevave, Netane Masima, Kaylen Miller, Jowasa Drodrolagi, Tui Kamikamica, Vuate Karawalevu, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Ben Nakubuwai, Henry Raiwalui, Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu, Mikaele Ravalawa, Taniela Sadrugu, Maika Sivo, Peni Tagituimua, King Vuniyayawa, Brandon Wakeham, Josh Wong.