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24 reasons why Australia will win the 2022 Rugby League World Cup

A lot has already been written, and no doubt there’s a heap more to come, about the chances of each of the 16 nations contesting this year’s Rugby League World Cup (RLWC), which begins in a month’s time.

Some delusional folk believes that the home ground advantage, and a few Aussies, can get England across the line. New Zealand has a strong squad as usual and is justifiably talking up their chances of success, while Fiji, Tonga, PNG and Samoa all believe that they can put up a good fight for the Paul Barriere Trophy.

From my perspective though, there are 24 solid reasons why Australia will win its 12th RLWC, and they are exactly the same reasons why they won the other 11. Australia simply has the best players. Even after providing a host of Australians to every other squad, the Aussies can still select 24 of the best players in the game, and they will end up winners.

So who are the players who will represent Australia? Well, only Mal Meninga really knows the answer to that question, but in my view, Australia has the opportunity to select a team that is both in form and dominant right across the park. To run out winners, Australia will need to play seven games within a month, so form, fitness, and versatility have to be the way to go.

With just 24 players to be selected, there’s no room for sentiment, experimentation, passengers, or interstate rivalry. Final selections, of course, will be dependent upon injuries received over the finals series, and the usual grey areas around player team nomination and eligibility.

Step one in choosing the squad is to choose the preferred 17-man squad, and then add another 7 players to both cover injuries and to play the minor pool games as required.

So who should be in the first 17?

1. James Tedesco (C) – A simple selection really. Tedesco is the best fullback in the game, possibly the best player in the world, and is in terrific form.

2. Josh Addo-Carr – It seems that everyone except Brad Fittler knows that Addo-Carr is the number one winger. He has the speed and positional play to take down any opponent, and a good measure of big match experience to go with it.

3. Latrell Mitchell – Mitchell is a brutal player, and the most damaging ball runner in the game. Centre is where he needs to play. There won’t be a single opponent, Joey Manu excepted, keen to line up opposite him. He can also switch to fullback if required during a game, but I wouldn’t start him there, and he provides another goal kicking option.

4. Matt Burton – Already a very accomplished player, Burton is ready for the next level. He can also cover 5/8 and has a great kicking game.

Matt Burton of the Bulldogs

Matt Burton. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

5. Valentine Holmes – Holmes is in career-best form and has been an attacking threat for both the Cowboys and QLD all season. He’s improved his defence considerably and continually comes up with those effort plays that can change a game. He could just as easily play centre, can fill in at fullback, and is a top-line goal kicker.

6. Cameron Munster – The number one 5/8 in the game, with daylight second. Munster is capable of destroying the opposition defence and competes for the entire 80 minutes. He can also cover fullback if required.

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7. Nathan Cleary – Cleary is in great form this year and virtually has no opposition for the halfback jersey. A great organiser, runs the ball well, has a great kicking game, and can defend like a forward. He’s also a pretty handy goal kicker.

8. Jake Trbojevic – A very steady and experienced hand in the middle who can control the ruck and lead the defence. Can also fill in at lock if required.

Jake Trbojevic looks to pass the ball during game two of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium, on June 26, 2022, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Jake Trbojevic. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

9. Harry Grant – On his day, Grant is a master at finding holes in the opposition’s defence and can defend with the best of them.

10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui – Tino is the type of tough competitor you need to get on top of the opposition forwards. He doesn’t take a backward step.

11. Cameron Murray – Great forward with a high work rate and all the ball skills. Can also play lock and has great leadership skills.

12. Liam Martin – Martin is a tough nut who likes running over the opponent’s weakest link. He never takes a backward step and is an excellent hole runner.

13. Isaah Yeo (VC) – The best lock forward in the game by some margin. Yeo has the complete game. Can also play as an edge forward.

14. Ben Hunt – In career-best form and can bring the X factor against an inattentive defence with either his kicking, passing, or running game. He also plays halfback.

15. Patrick Carrigan – Carrigan has had a break-out season in 2022 and has established himself as a middle-forward weapon. He could also play on an edge if required.

Patrick Carrigan

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

16. Payne Haas – Haas plays big minutes and makes a big contribution while he’s out there.

17. Angus Crichton – Crichton is the blueprint of the modern-day second rower – tough, great ball runner and rugged defender.

That team is good enough to sweep all opposition before them, but they’re going to need some support in order to cover injuries and rest key players when required. With a squad limit of just 24, it’s important that the rest of the squad are able to step into the key spine positions if required and also are versatile. Australia doesn’t want to make the mistake of playing stop-gap players in key positions. With that in mind, here are the remaining 7 members of the squad.

18. Dylan Edwards – The second best fullback in the game who brings the same high energy, high involvement, and strong defence as James Tedesco.

19. Joseph Suaallii – The best young outside back in the competition. Playing really well on the wing and can fill in at both centre and fullback if required.

20. Jack Wighton – No one competes harder on the field than Jack Wighton. He’s both a strong defender and a great attacking player who can trouble any defence. He can play both 5/8 and centre, is tough and skillful enough to play lock if required, and could also fill in at either fullback or wing.

Jack Wighton of the Raiders offloads the ball

Jack Wighton of the Raiders (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

21. Nicho Hynes – Hynes has been in superb form this season and is killing the halfback role. Can fill in anywhere in the backline and is also a very good goal kicker.

22. Apisai Koroisau – He has been in great form for the last three seasons and is not far behind Grant when it comes to the number one hooking role.

23. Matt Lodge – Lodge is a tough and uncompromising front rower who has been born again since moving to the Roosters. Probably the competition’s form front rower.

24. Hudson Young – Young has emerged from the field of back rowers to be a very reliable performer for Canberra. Doesn’t mind the hard stuff and knows the way to the line.

24 great players, and 24 compelling reasons why the Rugby League World Cup will be staying in Australia.

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