Voss: Will there be a World Cup upset?
Andrew Voss gives his thoughts on the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals, whether the Kiwis can still go all the way, and the Kangaroos' new culture.
How good was the Tonga v New Zealand match?
If I may shamelessly plug my book, Stuff You May Have Missed, I reckon if I was still writing it, I would need to find room to mention the epic in Hamilton.
There is a certain magic about the World Cup that separates it from the NRL, Super League and even State of Origin.
In my book I rated the 2013 World Cup semi-final between England and New Zealand as the best match I have ever witnessed.
I also rated the Kiwis v Samoa pool game in Warrington from the same tournament as my favourite to have called.
And now there is last Saturday to consider. The pre-match alone was as good as it gets.
Do Kiwi league fans dare to dream of a New Zealand v Tonga rematch in the World Cup final?
Can New Zealand still win the World Cup?
I believe they can.
All along they would have been thinking if they play their best, meeting Australia in the final would be their destiny. And if they got that far, you’d be foolish to dismiss their chances.
Well, now they have to get their heads around more than likely having to do that in a semi-final, provided they get past Fiji.
If in Wellington they recapture their form of the first half against Tonga, their campaign will be back on track. And that will ensure no one in the Kangaroos camp will be taking things for granted.
The way the draw is unfolding I reckon Brisbane is going to get two 'finals' in consecutive weeks.
Did we see enough improvement from England?
There was improvement against France but not enough just yet to have their fans confidently purchasing tickets to the December 2 final in Brisbane.
The start was certainly dynamic. Gareth Widdop might be fullback for the remainder of the tournament now, and appeared to enjoy the freedom of having the No.1 on his back.
I was more impressed with the experienced James Roby. He’s a fantastic player. It made me wonder whether Wayne Bennett had contemplated at any stage playing Roby at 9 and Josh Hodgson at 7?
It might be too late to make that change, but if selection was just about picking your best 13 players, I'd find a spot for both in this English squad.
Could we see an upset in the quarter-finals?
The favourites are all clear cut with Australia down to beat Samoa, Tonga to account for Lebanon, New Zealand to beat Fiji and England to get the better of PNG.
The Samoans have been disappointing and I don't believe they will have enough points in them to trouble Australia. Lebanon is sure to be gallant, but the Tongan juggernaut will be too strong.
I have plenty of respect for Fiji who has reached the semi-finals of the last two World Cups. They will throw plenty at the Kiwis.
But I'll nominate the Kumuls as the real 'smokey' provided they start well. We saw in the State Championship final how things went wrong on the big stage at ANZ Stadium on grand final day in the opening 40 minutes for the PNG Hunters. You know one thing though… they will run hard and tackle hard and play this quarter-final like their lives depend on it.
They’re facing an England team that has chalked up more kilometres than any other in the World Cup so far. In the NRL, teams sometimes struggle after the Perth trip.
I would have loved to have seen this game scheduled for Port Moresby.
England to win, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are given quite a scare.
Will Australia defend their title in the Women's World Cup?
They are the favourites, and coach Brad Donald will face a task of keeping his team grounded to take it one game at a time.
Mind you, there isn't a lot of time for basking in the glory of a victory as the Jillaroos will potentially play five matches in 17 days if they are to win the Cup again.
Injuries could play a part as a result. I wish them well.
How great is the tradition of the Kangaroos?
I had the privilege of being host at the Kangaroos reunion event last Sunday at the SCG.
Wow. What a roomful of greats. It was really something to see Cooper Cronk sitting in deep discussion next to Harry Wells. Harry toured with the 1952 Kangaroos. At the next table, Boyd Cordner was having a good yarn with captain of the 1982 Invincibles, Max Krilich.
I have nothing but admiration for Mal Meninga and the job he is doing in building a new culture for the Australian team and that includes a greater respect for history.
The day was full of highlights and, for the current Kangaroos, finished with the fabulous team shot that was a recreation of sorts of a team shot taken in 1908.
I loved it. Well done to all involved.
Have a great weekend of World Cup quarter-final football folks!