By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 3/12/13
The World Cup has delighted and treated fans with some truly fantastic footy. Here is my World Cup XVII selected from the players of the 14 nations that have shone brightly during the tournament.
FULLBACK 1. Matt Russell, Scotland
Four tries and 23 tackle busts was an impressive haul for Scotland’s up-and-coming fullback. Just 20 years old, the World Cup was Russell’s coming out party and he is sure to be a hit at Warrington next season.
Notable mention: Billy Slater
WING 2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, New Zealand
The final was disappointing end to an amazing tournament for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The Kiwi was virtually unstoppable until that point, scoring eight tries and making 789 metres with the ball. He will recover and expect more from this exciting youngster in the future.
Notable mention: Akuila Uate
CENTRE 3. Greg Inglis, Australia
He terrorised the Americans, touched up England and tormented Fiji. Either at fullback or at centre, Greg Inglis was a handful both scoring and creating tries. A monster of a man who was key to the Kangaroos’ success.
Notable mention: Dean Whare
CENTRE 4. Jarryd Hayne, Australia
Inglis’ partner in crime is also not usually a centre and also had a sensational World Cup like the Souths fullback. Hayne was virtually unplayable at times, topping the try-scoring charts with nine tries and breaking open defences at will.
Notable mention: Konrad Hurrell
WING 5. Brett Morris, Australia
Two tries in the final, nine in total, Brett Morris was a revelation. Morris scored some four-pointers that will live long in the memory and was one of Australia’s best when the pressure was on at Old Trafford.
Notable mention: Ryan Hall
FIVE-EIGHTH 6. Joseph Paulo, USA
The Parramatta five-eighth did everything for the Tomahawks – goal-kicking, scoring tries, captain, setting up tries, kicking in general play – I wouldn’t be surprised if he drove the team bus as well. Paulo was an instrumental part in the USA’s surprising tun and made people sit up and take notice.
Notable mention: Jonathan Thurston
HALFBACK 7. Danny Brough, Scotland
The Bravehearts’ skipper capped off a terrific Super League season by leading Scotland to the quarter-finals. Fiesty, flashy and effective, the 2013 Man of Steel winner was one of this World Cup’s great entertainers.
Notable mention: Cooper Cronk
PROP 8. FuiFui MoiMoi, Tonga
A fan favourite, Fui rattled the defence of every team he played against. The big-haired Tongan broke the line 18 times, made 370 metres from his 42 carries and never took a backward step, easily one of his side’s best in the special final group win over Italy.
Notable mention: Andrew Fifita
HOOKER 9. Cameron Smith, Australia
Captained his country to a World Cup win and demonstrated to all that he is the best rake on the planet. Tough, smart and talented, Smith is the complete footballer.
Notable mention: Isaac Luke
PROP 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, New Zealand
Carried his special NRL form into the international arena. Racked up 533 metres and 117 tackles, cementing his status as one of rugby league’s most devastating forwards.
Notable mention: James Graham
SECOND-ROW 11. Sonny Bill Williams, New Zealand
He might not have walked away with the ultimate prize but SBW was a highlight of the World Cup who demonstrated his class. Apart from his three tries, three try assists and 118 tackles, Williams was a crowd pleaser and helped drew in new fans to the tournament.
Notable mention: Brett Ferres
SECOND-ROW 12. Sam Burgess, England
Another NRL star who took great club form into the tournament. Apart from his high shot against Australia in the first game, Sam Burgess was an inspirational leader for England who individually carried his team in the semi-final with a fantastic performance.
Notable mention: Tariq Sims
LOCK 13. LOCK Paul Gallen, Australia
The under-sized workhorse never stopped tackling or working. All up he made 854 metres, more than any other player in the tournament, and made 148 tackles, which ranked him sixth overall. A worthy World Cup winner.
Notable mention: Corey Parker
14. Anthony Milford, Samoa
The standout in Samoa’s journey to the quarter-finals. Hard to tackle and often the spark that set the Samoans alight, Milford has huge potential.
15. Ray Nasso, Italy
An interchange weapon for the Azzurri, Nasso certainly caught the eye. If he wasn’t scoring tries he was prising open defences and giving his halves great service.
16. Mose Masoe, Samoa
A one-man wrecking ball. Shocked the French, delivering big hits and ran the ball with venom. Destined to be a superstar at St Helens.
17. Petero Civoniceva, Fiji
May be 37 years old but can still handle himself with the best. The ageless prop made more metres than any other Fijian player and made the third-highest amount of tackles for the Bati. Finished his fantastic career in style and in the acclaim that he richly deserves with a semi-final spot.