Friday 25 October 2013

#RLWC2013 Rugby League World Cup Predictions for 2013 Tournament

World Cup Predictions

2013 Rugby League World Cup

By W D Nicolson - October 25, 2013

Photoshop isn't on this computer!
Yes it'll be one of Australia, New Zealand or England for the title - but there's plenty to look for in this World Cup.
2013 Rugby League World Cup Schedule
FULL LIST of 2013 Rugby League World Cup Squads
GROUP TABLES for 2013 Rugby League World Cup
TV GUIDE for Live 7Mate coverage of every game on Australian Television

GROUP A: Australia, England, Fiji, Ireland - Top 3 finishers qualify for Quarter Finals
AUSTRALIA - Group A v England 26/10, v Fiji 2/11, v Ireland 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Yes... this is the best team in the World - but are not reigning World Cup champs.
This is a fantastic collection of superstars - the majority of which are in their prime and may not play in another World Cup again. Add to this the fact that most of them were part of the Kangaroos that got beaten in 2008 and there's so much driving the core of this team to win it's not funny. Losing another World Cup is not an option for this unit.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Andrew Fifita well and truly earned his bench spot while Michael Jennings missed out on the opener in a curious call that saw Brent Tate get the nod at right centre. Fifita is a gun and as long as Sheens gives him plenty of game time - he is the ace Australia can play from their bench to match the power on the benches of England and New Zealand. Jennings should be in the starting lineup and if he gets the call for the big games later in the tournament - he might produce the big play when everyone expects Inglis or Slater to. And there's a few others you might already know about...
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They'll get the World Cup back if Inglis, Thurston, Smith and Slater stay fit. While Australia have plenty of quality in the squad to back them up - those four will determine how they meet the threat of the Kiwis in the World Cup Final. World Cup Champions defeating New Zealand.

ENGLAND - Group A v Australia 26/10, v Ireland 2/11, v Fiji 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Well... maybe.
They aren't as good as Australia or New Zealand but they may be good enough on the day to beat one of the two during the tournament - but both, no I don't think so, unless they play New Zealand in the Final - then maybe. Have a number of game breakers (see below) but not picking James Graham for the opening game however... what is up with that?
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Sam Tomkins - he's the only one everyone will be watching whether you are barracking for England or their opponents - if England do anything beyond the Semi Finals - it'll be due to the fullback. Kevin Sinfield won the Golden Boot last year and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere laughed at the criticism (which mind you came from dubious and ill-informed Australian 'sources') - so he's got this tournament to prove he's a true gun at the international level when his nation needs him to be.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They will try to play it up the middle... and rely on Tomkins and Sinfield to make things happen when in good field position. Basically that means you have to play mistake free footy to beat their two biggest challengers during the pointy end of the tourney. But hey - beat Australia in the opener and confidence may do wonders for this team. Losing Semi Finalists to New Zealand.

FIJI - Group A v Ireland 28/10, v Australia 2/11, v England 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Kerekere, mo ni vola... No.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Tariq Sims, Akuila Uate and Petero Civoniceva... if these three lead their respective units (backrow, backs and front row) then Fiji are going to be more than a little competitive. John Sutton withdrawing is a massive loss though... leaving a gigantic hole in their playmaking corps.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They should be exciting to watch and if the forward pack matches up well with Samoa in the Quarter Finals - they could make the final four. But that forward pack has a heck of a lot of work to do given their likely QF opponents (Samoa, France or PNG) will bring the pain up front and Fiji don't have John Sutton to use the ball... Losing Quarter Finalists to Samoa.

IRELAND - Group A v Fiji 28/10, v England 2/11, v Australia 9/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Mian leat...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Pat Richards has carved up the Super League for years... so for the majority of NRL fans who don't watch SL - get ready for a taste of Richards on a free pass to play all over the field for the Irish.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: Sure they could beat Fiji (and thus qualify for the Quarters) but they need Richards to have a gigantic opener - and the Fijians have just a few too many quality players you'd think. Will be a team you want to see do well but Fiji might have more of a hope in the Quarters than the Irish. Will finish last in Group A.

GROUP B: New Zealand, France, PNG, Samoa - Top 3 finishers qualify for Quarter Finals
NEW ZEALAND - Group B v Samoa 27/10, v France 1/11, v Papua New Guinea 8/11
They are the defending champions after all - when they took advantage of Australian errors in the 2008 Final to run away with the title. And this time they've got SBW in the lineup... hello World Cup Final if their key players stay on the field.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: SBW - this will be his only World Cup of the Rugby League variety so take it all in... he won the Roosters the comp with 27 minutes of mastery so he certainly could do the same for the Kiwis here. Kieran Foran is a genius and with no Benji Marshall - this will be his team to run alongside Shaun Johnson - superb combination of tenacity and talent that.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They are as good as Australia... if they play to their absolute best and Australia are just slightly off their game. With SBW they will enter any game with England or Australia knowing they can win, as opposed to most ANZAC Tests where they think they can win... and often don't. No lack of ability here but their forward pack must be 'on' and give Australia's skill players little to no room or field position to hurt them. Runners Up in World Cup Final to Australia.

FRANCE - Group B v Papua New Guinea 27/10, v New Zealand 1/11, v Samoa 11/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Aucune chance...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Remi Casty will be a Sydney Rooster next year so a lot of keen eyes in the southern hemisphere will be watching the French just to see how he fares. He's that good that Trent Robinson will let Luke O'Donnell walk despite the veteran being a key ingredient in Easts' premiership. Other than that - just enjoy watching the French play - unless you watch Super League closely this will be the only viewing you get of what France has to offer the game - so watch with optimism - there's bound to be a player or two who impress... and NRL clubs may be watching too.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They only need to beat PNG to get into the Quarter Finals and we'll know who is advancing early as they play each other on October 27. Losing Quarter Finalists to England.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Group B v France 27/10, v Samoa 4/11, v New Zealand 8/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Pikinini i dring susu yet...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: The obvious are David Mead, Paul Aiton and Ray Thompson - but the only way to enjoy watching PNG play is to say their various outstanding names out loud while they play. Charlie Wabo is a favourite, while Mark Mexico should be on the WWE circuit. But they aren't the only two - take a look at the roster for yourself!
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They might have got out of Group B with James Segeyaro fit (he did a pectoral in the Prime Minister's game in Port Morseby) but now they'll be up against it to beat Samoa or France without him. They've got four NRL players but they aren't going any further than this Group stage. Will finish last in Group B.

SAMOA - Group B v New Zealand 27/10, v Papua New Guinea 4/11, v France 11/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Vili le leoleo!
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Anthony Milford will get plenty of touches at fullback and we already know how fun he is to watch play - so he's the obvious choice here. This team isn't short out outside backs with talent - but can we perhaps see Ben Roberts play with that freedom that we used to see say 5 or 6 seasons ago?
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: Are they better than the Kumuls and French? Well they should be, that means they get the Fijians or Irish in the Quarter Finals - and you know what - that's a great run to make it to the Final Four if you've ever seen it. They will either be dangerous or dreadful... I'll give them a chance to be the former and make the last four. Losing Semi Finalists to Australia.

GROUP C: Italy, Scotland, Tonga - Top Team qualifies for Quarter Finals
ITALY - Group C v Wales 26/10, Scotland 3/11, v Tonga 10/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Nossignore
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Italy have got a good percentage of NRL calibre players but their chances of being the cindarella team probably ended when Terry Campese pulled out. So keep an eye on Ryan Ghietti - the player who will get the keys to running this team around the park sans Campo.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They should beat Scotland but getting by Tonga will be a tougher ask - they did beat England in the warm-up game but if Tonga get a big win over Scotland in their opener - things will be tough for the Italian Stallions... Will finish 2nd in Group D and not qualify for the Quarter Finals.

SCOTLAND - Group C v Tonga 29/10, v Italy 3/11, v USA 7/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Hou d'ye say... No?
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Danny Brough will lead the Scottish charge in the halves with Peter Wallace and is the wildcard they have for the tournament. The Scots have a few names to consider but the kid I want to see more of - Matthew Russell - just left the Titans to return to the UK which is a shame... for the NRL if he proves to be a shining light in this tournament for the Scots.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They look outmatched in Group C by the Italians and Tongans... but hey - at least they are here right? Will finish 3rd in Group D and not qualify for the Quarter Finals.

TONGA - Group C v Scotland 29/10, v Cook Islands 5/11, v Italy 10/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Hoku vakapuna tētē 'i 'olunga fono 'i he toke...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: This team would be deadly if Feleti Mateo was available (memo NSW selectors he wants to play for the Blues) but there's plenty of talent. Jason Taumalolo and Konrad Hurrell are the two who could power Tonga out of Group C - especially if they get paired up on the same side of the field.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They lack a standout half and hooker and that will kill them if they get through the Group stage into the Quarter Finals. But the game plan doesn't have to be complex - with runners like Taumalolo, Hurrell, MoiMoi, the Manus, Murdoch-Masila, Fonua and Ta'ai just give the big boppers the ball and hope for the best! Losing Quarter Finalists to New Zealand.

GROUP D: Cook Islands, USA, Wales - Top Team qualifies for Quarter Finals
COOK ISLANDS - Group D v USA 30/10, v Tonga 5/11, v Wales 10/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Ka meitaki ãinei te pa‘~i tai i konei?
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Dylan Napa had a great end to the season with the Roosters and won't be afraid to throw himself into the action this tournament, plus it will be fun to watch Zeb Taia and Isaac John play some ad-lib footy as the key playmakers for the boys from the Cook Islands.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They might just go alright - there's a sprinkling of talent here and the Welsh and USA are in much the same boat - thus roll a dice for who gets out of Group D... and then gets crushed by Australia in the Quarters. Thus the Cookie Monsters are my pick out of Group D. Losing Quarter Finalists to Australia. 

UNITED STATES - Group D v Cook Islands 30/10, v Wales 3/11, v Scotland 7/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Negative captain...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Joseph Paulo is a quality ballplaying backrower... but you don't really know about him because Parra have sucked so badly of late. If the USA do anything - it'll be because of Joseph Paulo. Also it is nice to see Sideshow Bob back on our screens... that is Matt Petersen.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They'll have a crack and hopefully play attacking footy as that's their only chance of getting past the Cook Islands or Welsh... And in Rugby League at least - the USA are one of those teams everyone loves to see do well. Will finish 3rd in Group D and not qualify for the Quarter Finals.

WALES - Group D v Italy 26/10, v USA 3/11, v Cook Islands 10/11
CAN THEY WIN IT? Slim i ddim...
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Tyson Frizell had his moments this season for St George-Illawarra Dragons but the Welsh Dragons need him to be enormous in every minute this tournament if they are to really do much at all. There's some solid players on the team but Frizell is the biggest name.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTION: They played in a Four Nations tournament a few years ago and didn't disgrace themselves... but I'm on the Cookie Monsters to upset them and relegate the Welsh to also-ran status in this World Cup... my only real smokey pick of the tournament. Will finish 2nd in Group D and not qualify for the Quarter Finals.

So that means the tournament plays out this way:

GROUP A: Australia top group, from England and Fiji, Ireland miss out on QF.
GROUP B: New Zealand top group, from Samoa and France, PNG miss out on QF.
GROUP C: Tonga advance, from Italy and Scotland who miss out on QF.
GROUP D: Cook Islands advance, from Wales and USA who miss out on QF.

New Zealand over Tonga
Australia over Cook Islands
England over France
Samoa over Fiji

New Zealand over England
Australia over Samoa

Australia over New Zealand

@NRLTweet's WORLD CUP PREDICTION: Australia win the World Cup... but New Zealand however breeze into the Final and leave no doubt as to the gap between the top two and the English... and the surprising Samoans.

So who gets the final Semi Final spot alongside Australia, New Zealand and England?
And most importantly - will Australia take back the crown? 
Let us know by commenting below or replying on Twitter.
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Just quickly - congratulations to James Maloney for winning #NRLTweetPlayerofFinals Award and the Grand Final Man of the Match on Sunday after his Roosters defeated Manly 26-18 in The Decider. You can hear the full voting results on Episode 145 of NOT The Footy Show - the Grand Final Review Podcast.

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We might be back for a few shows during the World Cup - fingers crossed right?