Sport Rugby League Memories of 2008 Rugby League World Cup spur on Kangaroos

Memories of 2008 Rugby League World Cup spur on Kangaroos

Cameron Smith and Sean O'Loughlin
Australia's Rugby League World Cup captain Cameron Smith (left) and England's Sean O'Loughlin pose with the trophy. Photo: AAP
Share
Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email

There’s not much Cameron Smith hasn’t achieved in rugby league – and that’s just this year.

But the Kangaroos skipper says memories of Australia’s 2008 disappointment will spur him on to tick the one box he hasn’t in his glittering career – hold aloft a World Cup on home soil.

Smith, 34, would be forgiven for feeling content in 2017 after arguably the most dominant season by a player.

Trans-Tasman Test success, another Queensland State of Origin series win and a second Dally M Medal before inspiring Melbourne’s NRL premiership triumph should have satisfied Smith.

And Australia is short-priced favourite to claim its 11th World Cup triumph.

But the wily 50-Test hooker believed he still had plenty to prove on home soil after Australia’s shock 2008 World Cup final loss to New Zealand in Brisbane.

Fullback Billy Slater infamously gifted Benji Marshall a try with a wild pass, sparking New Zealand’s 34-20 boilover at Suncorp Stadium nine years ago.

“I have not got fond memories of the last home World Cup in 2008 so we will be looking to turn that around,” Smith said ahead of Friday night’s Cup opener against the Wayne Bennett-coached England in Melbourne.

Billy Slater
Joel Monaghan (left) and Billy Slater in shock after losing to New Zealand in the 2008 final. Photo: AAP

“That was very disappointing, I must admit.

“It took a while for us to get over that disappointment.

“We are not hiding the fact that we would love to win this World Cup on home turf.”

Smith then cast his mind back to the 2013 World Cup when asked about the England clash.

In an ominous warning, Smith said Australia wanted to set the tone for the tournament against England after almost being ambushed by the Poms in their Cup opener four years ago.

England looked set to start the 2013 tournament with a boilover by jumping to a 10-0 lead before Australia ground out a 28-20 win and going on to claim its 10th Cup.

“That (2013 opener) was a really tricky prospect. We didn’t start well, England did and we were able to claw our way back for victory that day,” Smith said.

“It set up a great World Cup for us. Friday night will be much the same.

“If you get beaten in that (first) game you put yourself in a real tricky position come the quarter-finals and semis.”

Meanwhile, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said he knew the make-up of his 17 for their opener but wouldn’t give away who would play five-eighth in Johnathan Thurston’s absence.

North Queensland’s Michael Morgan, Cronulla playmaker James Maloney and Melbourne premiership winner Cameron Munster are in the mix.

“We would love to have him (Thurston) involved in our team but unfortunately that is not the case,” Meninga said.

“We’ve got some very capable replacements. We are confident those three guys will fill JT’s boots.”

Bennett reckoned he had a good idea of who would be wearing the Kangaroos No.6 jersey.

“Morgan finished the season in such great form I imagine he has a foot in the door,” he said.

-AAP