Meninga hails Kangaroos defence
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has given his Australian side the ultimate compliment, labelling the 17 men who defeated England 6-0 in Saturday night's World Cup final as the greatest defensive Kangaroos side that he has ever seen.
His comments come after Australia shutout another nation, with three teams in this year's World Cup failing to score a point in their matches against the World Champions.
Lebanon, Samoa and England in the final, all failed to score a point against the Kangaroos, with Australia's scrambling defence continually shutting down their opposition time and time again.
There were many times in Saturday's final where England looked as if they had to score, but the Kangaroos kept turning up and making the big plays to keep their opponents out.
This attitude is why Australia only conceded 16 points for the whole tournament, with their defence only letting in three tries over 480 minutes of football.
Meninga, a veteran of 42 Tests for Australia, could not speak highly enough of his side when asked about the effort, describing his team as "special".
"Yeah [it is the best defensive Kangaroos side I've seen]," Meninga said.
"Holding a national side the quality of England to nil takes special efforts all the time and a lot of courage and determination.
"You could see both teams were fatigued because it was a pretty hot and humid night. They just kept on coming up with the right decisions and the right results."
57-year-old Meninga was still a child when scorelines like that of Saturday night were the norm in rugby league, and he said watching this year's World Cup final brought back some great memories of the tough, no-frills style of football that rugby league was founded on.
"You don't get too many 6-0 games in the game of rugby league anymore. It reminds me of the old days," he said.
"I'm really proud of the team. When I look at the nil scoreline, it makes me really proud of the way they defended again and the way they kept coming up with special efforts.
"The team has bought into everything we've tried to achieve over the last couple of years."
Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith has played against an England or Great Britain side on 13 occasions, losing only once, with that result coming against Great Britain in the 2006 Tri-nations.
He believes the England side Wayne Bennett put together for Saturday's final is on par with that team, labelling them as one of the toughest international sides he has ever faced.
"We could only manage to score one try against them. We didn't really spend a whole lot of time down their end," Smith said.
"They played a great game of football. They knew that they had to play their best game to be a chance of winning. It was just fortunate for us that we played extremely well also."
Australia's World Cup victory was the first time a nation has claimed the title on home soil in 40 years.