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Members of the victorious Lebanon rugby league side who qualified for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, with James Elias second from left.

No matter the age or experience, the understanding is there. 

Lebanon's recent successes in South Africa to qualify for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup was built on their pride for those who have come before them, and their heritage. 

From co-captain Ray Moujalli – who has been building towards this moment since debuting against Morocco in 2003 – to young gun James Elias, it's a factor the players find great satisfaction within.

For Moujalli, a one-time NRL player with the Roosters back in 2009 who has since built a reputation as a modern day legend for NSW Cup outfit Newtown Jets, it's his success with Lebanon which hits home most.

While he only played 10 minutes of Lebanon's aggregate 90-28 victory over South Africa due to requiring surgery after cutting his knee open so badly you could see his patella, the 30-year-old Moujalli said it meant everything to qualify after missing out on the past two World Cups on points differential. 

"It means everything, mate. It's everything I've worked towards because playing international football is the pinnacle of the game," Moujalli told 

"There are a couple of us who have been trying to achieve it for the past 12 years and it means a lot to the boys but also our families. It's definitely a satisfying moment.

"It's about respecting the life we have been provided with and honouring the heritage of our families, especially with most coming to Australia to provide a better life for us.

"Any team you play for you bond together but playing for Lebanon I think it's a little bit more special than anything else. When you put on that jumper it's an amazing feeling. When you play, you play out of your skin."

Unlike Moujalli, 21-year-old Elias has qualified for the World Cup on his first attempt but it doesn't mean he hasn't worked hard for it.

A mainstay of the Newcastle Knights' junior and lower grades for the past six years, Elias is as proud as any of his teammates, having fought his way back from back-to-back syndesmosis surgeries to play in South Africa – just his second and third game in nine months. 

"The heritage and playing for your family's name and our forefathers, we all understand that it's important for not only us but for Lebanon itself," Elias told 

"We have strong bond within the team I think and that pulled us through, the tightness of the playing group and what we were playing for was a deciding factor."

Both Moujalli and Elias insisted their team wouldn't be intimidated if they were to come up against powerhouses Australia, New Zealand or England at the World Cup. 

"I was thinking about it the other day actually; imagine if I came up against big GI or someone like that. It would be a real good buzz," Moujalli said.

"If anything it would be more motivating to come up against them [rather than intimidation]. The respect factor will be there sure, but Lebanon is maturing as a team too."

Elias added: "We'll be right. I think everybody understands what the World Cup will bring and the teams we'll come up against. 

"I think there's a good chance that other NRL players will jump on board too [such as Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah]. 

"It'll definitely strengthen the team and make our chances [of success] better. It will probably put a bit more belief within us too, having a few NRL players in the squad, and will boost the morale of the supporters."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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