International View: England's Aussies set for debuts
The Kangaroos might have the weekend off before the Four Nations begins, but there is still plenty of international Rugby League on this weekend around the globe. International View has a look at some of these fixtures and what else is happening in the League world.
Heighington, Reed to make England debuts
Wests Tigers forward Chris Heighington and Brisbane Broncos centre Jack Reed will both make their debuts for the English national team after being named in the run-on squad for Friday’s Test Match against the French Chanticleers in Avignon.
Joining the pair will be former NRL players Rangi Chase, who will also be making his England debut, and Melbourne Storm’s Gareth Widdop, who earns his third international cap.
In what will be the only warm-up game for England before they take on Wales in the opening round of the Gillette Four Nations, England coach Steve McNamara will be looking for a convincing win to raise some much-needed confidence within the squad.
England Team: Sam Tomkins (Wigan); Ryan Hall (Leeds), Jack Reed (Brisbane – NRL), Kirk Yeaman (Hull), Tom Briscoe (Hull); Kevin Sinfield (Leeds), Rangi Chase (Castleford); Jamie Peacock (Leeds – c), James Roby (St Helens), James Graham (St Helens), Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers – NRL), Ben Westwood (Warrington), Chris Heighington (Wests Tigers – NRL). Interchange: Gareth Widdop (Melbourne – NRL), Adrian Morley (Warrington), Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), Jon Wilkin (St Helens).
Goulding’s future in doubt
French coach Bobbie Goulding will continue coaching for this Friday’s Test match against England, but his future as national coach into 2012 is in doubt after Les Chanticleers went down to the England Development side, the Knights, last weekend in Leigh.
With France naming one of their strongest sides in years, the Chanticleers were expected to push if not beat the Knights last Saturday, but instead it was the home team that ran out convincing seven-tries-to-three victors.
Embarrassed by the result, Goulding offered his resignation to the Federation but was eventually talked around to stay until the end of this year’s international season.
"The Federation made it clear they didn't want me to resign," Goulding told Press Association Sport. "They want me to carry on and I have their full backing. We had a real good chat and we also had a team meeting and the players want me to stay.
"I'm going to see out the next three games and we'll then sit down and talk about a new contract to the 2013 World Cup, if everything is agreed.
"I've never given in and I'll never give in. I'm nearly three years into the job when everybody said I'd be gone in three months."
Italy and Lebanon show they’re a class above the rest
The opening round of the European Qualifiers showed that the team to progress to the 2013 World Cup will come from either Lebanon or Italy after both teams dominated in their respective matches.
On the Saturday evening the Italians, led by Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello, ran out convincing 92-6 winners over Russia in Padova before Lebanon went one better defeating Serbia 96-4 the following day in Tripoli.
Whilst there is no doubt that Russia and Serbia have made impressive strides in the development of their domestic competitions, the lack of eligible professional players from either Super League or the NRL has unfortunately counted significantly against them.
Both teams however will be looking for improved performances at home this weekend when they host Lebanon and Italy respectively before the final round of the competition is held on October 29 in Belgrade where the European Qualifier will be decided.
Flight dramas for Russia
As if losing 92-6 in Padova wasn’t bad enough, the Russian national team had a less-than-ideal flight back to Moscow following their game against Italy.
Returning on Sunday night, the Russian players were forced to get involved when a drunk and abusive passenger turned on flight crew, forcing the players to restrain the individual and for the pilot to divert the flight to Frankfurt.
The alarming incident and subsequent involvement of the police meant the Russians couldn’t fly out until Monday morning; however in another painful twist for the team, their visas expired at midnight on Sunday – meaning the whole team was considered illegal immigrants under German law!
Fortunately current Russian and Widnes coach John Stankevitch was able talk immigration officers into eventually make an exception to the rule for the side so they could return home and prepare for Saturday’s match against Lebanon.
Harris looks to experience for Dragons
Ian Watson, the most-capped Welsh national ever, notches his 29th cap this Saturday when his side take on the Ireland Wolfhounds in Neath as part of the Dragons’ Four Nations warm-up.
Watson, who made his debut for Wales back in 1995 against the USA, is one of five Welsh players with more than eight years’ experience playing for the national team (including Lee Briers, Mark Lennon, Aled James and Jordan James) in the 24-man squad named by Wales coach Iestyn Harris on Wednesday.
Watson is also joined by former Welsh Rugby Union and British Lions captain, Gareth Thomas, who played more than 100 international caps in the other code of rugby before coming across to League.
Atlantic Qualifier decided this Sunday
This Sunday either the USA or Jamaica will qualify for their first Rugby League World Cup after both teams convincingly beat South Africa this week in the Atlantic Qualifiers.
Despite the fact the Tomahawks have held the edge over their Caribbean-based neighbours in their past two internationals, the Jamaicans will feel confident heading into the match after securing the services of four Super League players including Karl Pryce from competition Minor Premiers, Wigan, and Danny Bravo from eventual champions, Leeds.
Internationals this weekend:
Atlantic World Cup Qualifiers
23rd October – USA Tomahawks v Jamaica: Philadelphia, USA
European World Cup Qualifiers
22nd October – Russian Bears v Lebanon Cedars: Vereya, Russia
23rd October – Serbia v Italian Azzurri: Belgrade, Serbia
21st October – France Chanticleers v England: Avignon, France
22nd October – Wales Dragons v Ireland Wolfhounds: Neath, Wales
22nd October – Cumbria v England Knights: Whitehaven, England
Last Week’s Results:
Atlantic World Cup Qualifiers
USA Tomahawks 40 defeated South Africa Rhinos 4: Philadelphia, USA
Jamaica 20 defeated South Africa Rhinos 6: Philadelphia, USA
European World Cup Qualifiers
Italy Azzurri 92 defeated Russian Bears 6: Padova, Italy
Lebanon Cedars 96 defeated Serbia 4: Tripoli, Lebanon
England Knights 38 defeated France Chanticleers 18: Leigh, England
Junior Kangaroos 16 lost to Junior Kiwis 28: Newcastle, Australia
Scotland Bravehearts 26 defeated Ireland Wolfhounds 6: Glasgow, Scotland
Australia Kangaroos 42 defeated NZ Kiwis 6: Newcastle, A