World in Waiting: Newman still hoping for World Cup spot

23 Aug 2022

World in Waiting: Newman still hoping for World Cup spot

By Steve Mascord

Every week we bring you a round-up of the most important stories in international rugby league. This week, debutants plot their warm-up games and the Leeds Rhinos star who faces a fight to be fit for RLWC2021.

Tackle one: Greece is the word

A country not unaccustomed to impressive amphitheatres, Greece is coming to the former home of rugby league’s world record crowd.

The men’s World Cup debutants are to play Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium on October 8, adding to a magic weekend of international rugby league for fans in the north of England.

It all kicks off on Friday night when hosts England take on Fiji, who’ve made the semis three World Cups in a row, at AJ Bell Stadium in Salford. Next day Lebanon and Wales blow out the cobwebs at Heywood Road, Sale, 2022 heavyweights Tonga tangle with 2025 hosts France at The Shay in Halifax and New Zealand visit the scene of past glories at Headingley when they meet Leeds.

Odsal Stadium hosted 102,569 people for the 1954 Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax. The record was broken with the opening of Stadium Australia in Homebush and again for the grand final that year when 107,558 saw Melbourne beat St George Illawarra.

Tackle two: These Irish eyes are still smiling

You’re Ireland’s likely halfback - and then they recruit Luke Keary and Richie Myler. To quote an old Australian beer advert, “how d’ya feel”?

“It’s good for Ireland rugby league,” says York City Knights’ Brendan O’Hagan. “If you look at what Luke Keary is doing over there in the NRL, he’s absolutely carving it up.

“He’s a big-game player as well. It’s only only going to do Ireland good and that’s all I want. I just want Ireland to be pushing the game of rugby league there. It’s one of the best sports in the world in my opinion.”

O’Hagan himself has an Aussie accent, having cut his teeth at Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders and having represented NSW at junior level alongside many of the World Cup’s biggest stars.

“If I get selected I’ll take it with both hands. My mum’s dad’s from Sligo and my dad’s dad is from Derry so … it’s something I’m really keen on doing.”

Tackle three: Hello Newman, not goodbye

Lithe three-quarter Harry Newman of Leeds is a huge part of England’s men’s World Cup plans and last weekend he did a hamstring after a similar injury sidelined the 22-year-old for an extended period earlier this year.

Newman may miss the rest of the domestic season but - like potential team-mate Jackson Hastings - insists he’s still available for the World Cup.

Cook Islands’ Brad Takairangi is another who is out of club football at the moment due to a hamstring injury but rehabbing obsessively to return for the showpiece tournament.

Tackle four: Heading Stateside?

Big news in the World Cup movement over the weekend with a new body in the US saying it will bid for the 2029 tournament.

Championship Rugby League is venture formed by Tom Stevenson of California Rugby League and Richard Fale of Pacific Sports International.

“It is our intent to host the 2029 Rugby League World Cup in the USA,” said Fale.  “Pacific Sports International is working on putting this bid together with a lot of success already occurring. We have several states and over a dozen cities and counties committed to working with us to make this happen.

Tackle five: Women in League exhibition

In the lead-up to the World Cup, Warrington’s Golden Square shopping centre will host a special exhibition.

The Women In Rugby League display will be at Golden Square from September 17 to 25. The focus of the exhibition is the early days of women’s rugby league in the UK, before it enjoyed the high profile it has today.

Tackle six: Coventry pitch concern

Coventry City football club have had three matches postponed since the Commonwealth Games after the pitch was ruled unsafe as a result of the wear and tear from 65 sevens matches. 

The ground, which will host Australia-Scotland on October 21, is also used by rugby union club Wasps.

“The pitch doesn’t look great at the moment does it?” RLWC chief executive John Dutton told â€œIt’s just added to the list of challenges that we face.

“But we are very grateful to be working with the owners of Coventry City and have a great relationship with the city council. I’m sure we’ll overcome the challenges and continue to work with all the partners in Coventry.”

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