The men's Rugby League World Cup Team of Round 2

The 17 players who impressed the most in the second round of men's matches

27 Oct 2022

The men's Rugby League World Cup Team of Round 2

The 17 players who impressed the most in the second round of men's matches

By Josh Graham

There was no shortage of action in Round 2 of the men’s Rugby League World Cup as several teams made great strides towards the quarter-finals.

Hosts England are the only team to be officially guaranteed a place in the last eight following a commanding win over France in Bolton.

But defending champions Australia look set to top Group B after a resounding victory over Scotland in Round 2 with Fiji best placed to join them in progressing after overcoming Italy at Kingston Park.

New Zealand are also well placed to top the pile in Group C after a comprehensive display against Jamaica while Lebanon took a big step towards joining them after edging out Ireland in a fiery encounter.

READ MORE: Five stars from Round 2

Tonga were another side to make it two wins from two after beating Wales and could be in line for a quarter-final match-up with Samoa who got their campaign back on track with a dominant display against Greece.

Papua New Guinea were the other team to pick up a win in Group D after getting the better of Cook Islands in Warrington on Tuesday night.

Here is the team of Round 2 as selected by our panel of experts with eight nations represented for the second week in a row.

Full-back – Jacob Kiraz (Lebanon)

Jacob Kiraz produced a standout try-scoring performance to help Lebanon put one foot in the quarter-finals with a 32-14 win over Ireland.

Kiraz was on the end of Mitchell Moses’ beautiful no-look pass for the Cedars’ second score and his performance suggested he could take the No.1 jersey for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2023.

Right Wing – Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (New Zealand)

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak needed just 18 minutes to notch a hat-trick against Jamaica as the Reggae Warriors were left exposed out wide time and again.

But the Kiwi winger is not just a finisher, he stepped in at centre to create one and then showed his kicking ability to set up two more in a 68-6 victory. 

Perhaps his greatest feat was try number four, despite being hobbled by cramp, Watene-Zelezniak managed to finish acrobatically in the corner on one leg before taking his leave. 

Right Centre – Tim Lafai (Samoa)

Salford Red Devils centre Tim Lafai was only called up to the Samoa squad as an injury replacement following the opening defeat to England.

The 31-year-old had a superb first year in Super League, being named in the 2022 Dream Team, and carried that form onto the international stage with two tries in the 72-4 win over Greece.

Left Centre – Justin Olam (Papua New Guinea)

Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam is a superstar back in Papua New Guinea and the 2021 Dally M Centre of the year is showing why at this World Cup.

Olam showed terrific hands to claim a bullet pass and crash over late on in the game after his earlier break had laid the foundations for Lachlan Lam’s first score.

Left Wing – Josh Addo-Carr (Australia)

There has been no stopping Josh Addo-Carr so far and he is one of just two players to be universally selected by all our panellists.

Following two tries against Fiji on the opening night of the Rugby League World Cup, the speedster added four more to his tally against Scotland as the Kangaroos racked up an 84-0 victory. 

His fourth stacks up against any score in World Cup history, Matt Burton acrobatically keeping the ball in play with a ‘hot dog pass’ before Addo-Carr latched on to his own grubber to seal the win in style. 

Stand-off – Jarome Luai (Samoa)

Jarome Luai bounced back from the opening day disappointment against England to pull the strings against Greece as Samoa found their free-scoring form in their second outing.

Luai, fresh from winning his second consecutive NRL Grand Final with Penrith, set up five tries and claimed the player of the match award.

Scrum-half – Mitchell Moses (Lebanon)

Mitchell Moses is a class act and he pulled out all the tricks to help Lebanon into a 20-4 half-time lead against Ireland that they never looked like relinquishing. 

As well as some fine goal-kicking, knocking over six shots out of seven, Moses also pulled the strings with that pass to Kiraz the highlight.

It was no coincidence that he was the man on the end of some Irish high tackles by the end, it was the only way they could lay a hand on the Paramatta Eels star.

Prop – Addin Fonua-Blake (Tonga)

Prop Addin Fonua-Blake put in a massive shift in the middle for Tonga in the win over Wales, 52 minutes of work yielding 184 metres.

The New Zealand Warriors forward’s power proved difficult to contain for John Kear’s men as he gave the 2017 semi-finalists plenty of go-forward with 72 post-contact metres.

Hooker – Brandon Smith (New Zealand)

Brandon Smith’s quality continues to help New Zealand tick with the outgoing Melbourne Storm dummy-half bagging two tries against Jamaica.

The hooker is the heartbeat of the Kiwis and sets the pace in attack for Michael Maguire’s men.

Prop – Luke Thompson (England)

England’s NRL contingent have impressed at this World Cup and prop Luke Thompson is no exception.

The Bulldogs middle crossed the whitewash in the 42-18 win over France as well as making 163 metres in 62 minutes with 55 metres after the initial contact.

Second row – Viliame Kikau (Fiji)

Fiji needed a response after being beaten by Australia in Round 1 and Viliame Kikau’s performance was key in ensuring they delivered one. 

The 27-year-old, fresh from NRL glory with Penrith Panthers, set the tone with an early try at Kingston Park and crossed again later in the first half as the Bati put the result beyond doubt by the interval. 

His influence did not wane in the second 40 minutes as Kikau played an integral role in each of Maika Sivo’s two tries. 

First, he expertly claimed Sitiveni Moceidreke’s spiral bomb and got his pass off before being tackled to help put Sivo away in the corner and the pair linked up again in the dying minutes as Kikau’s outrageous offload helped keep the ball alive before wing Sivo crossed for his second.

Second row – Rhyse Martin (Papua New Guinea)

Rhyse Martin may have had to settle for only equalling the world record for most consecutive successful kicks (41) but the Leeds Rhinos back rower still put in a sterling display in the win over Cook Islands.

Martin also got himself a try in the 32-16 win, a major boost to the Kumuls’ qualification hopes.

Loose forward – Victor Radley (England)

Some questioned the decision to award Victor Radley the player of the match on his England debut against Samoa but there were no eyebrows raised after a masterclass of a performance against France.

Radley scored in Bolton but it was his all-round game that was hugely impressive, in particular a lovely jinking run and pass inside allowing Luke Thompson to score and proving his threat at the line.

Interchange – James Fisher-Harris (New Zealand)

Like Radley, James Fisher-Harris makes this side for the second week in a row after the Penrith Panthers enforcer put in another barnstorming display in New Zealand’s win over Jamaica.

Interchange – Patrick Carrigan (Australia)

Patrick Carrigan’s superb 2022 season continued with another fine showing in the middle for the Kangaroos against Scotland.

Interchange – George Williams (England)

England’s player of the match against France, George Williams can lay claim to being Shaun Wane’s player of the tournament so far and will captain the hosts this weekend against Greece.

Interchange – Josh Papali'I (Samoa)

One of the NRL’s premier middles, Josh Papali’I helped Samoa get things back on track with 161 metres in 47 minutes.

The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via

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