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With the World Cup fast approaching, takes a look at how each Group shapes up and who are the key men who have to stand up if their nation is to progress to the knockout stages…

GROUP C (New Zealand, Lebanon, Jamaica, Ireland)

The lowdown

All eyes will be on 2008 World Cup champions New Zealand, who enter Pool C as the hottest of favourites to win all three games and progress to the quarter-finals with plenty of confidence under their belt.

Huge interest in how the Luke Keary-inspired Ireland and the Mitch Moses-led Lebanon fare, with the result of their clash in Leigh on October 24 likely to determine who progresses alongside the Kiwis.

In former Wallaby coach Michael Cheika and Wests Tigers legend Robbie Farah, Lebanon have a passionate and astute coaching team sure to have something special up their sleeve for the big occasion.

With Moses and Adam Doueihi teaming up in the halves and Jacob Kiraz and Josh Mansour out wide, the Cedars have the firepower to trouble all their rivals.

The Reggae Warriors are likely to find the going tough, particularly with Knights winger Dom Young having made the difficult call to represent England rather than his Jamaican heritage, but the likes of Ashton Golding, Ben Jones-Bishop and Michael Lawrence will rip in for coach Romeo Montheith and provide plenty of entertainment for fans along the way.

The games


New Zealand

Squad: Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Storm), Jesse Bromwich (Storm), Kenny Bromwich (Storm), Dylan Brown (Eels), James Fisher-Harris (Panthers), Kieran Foran (Sea Eagles), Peta Hiku (Cowboys), Jahrome Hughes (Storm), Sebastian Kris (Raiders), Moses Leota (Panthers), Isaac Liu (Titans), Joseph Manu (Roosters), Jeremy Marshall-King (Bulldogs), Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders), Briton Nikora (Sharks), Marata Niukore (Eels), Isaiah Papali’i (Eels), Jordan Rapana (Raiders), Brandon Smith (Storm), Scott Sorensen (Panthers), Joseph Tapine (Raiders), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Warriors).

Key Player: Take your pick from a squad brimming with superstars but Roosters-bound hooker Brandon Smith and his new team-mate Joseph Manu loom as influential figures in the Kiwis’ campaign. At his best Smith is one of the game’s most dynamic ball runners while Manu’s 145 tackle breaks, 11 tries and 13 line breaks played a huge role in helping the Roosters into the NRL play-offs.


Brandon Smith scheming against Tonga in the mid-year Test in June.


Strengths: Michael Maguire has assembled an awesome forward pack which features James Fisher-Harris, Jesse Bromwich, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph Tapine to make the hard yards with Briton Nikora, Kenny Bromwich and Isaiah Papali’i to punch holes on the edge. A number of these Test stalwarts are most likely playing at their last World Cup and will be desperate to go out on a high with their Kiwi brothers.

Weaknesses: This is one of the most complete squads lining up at the 2022 World Cup and they should power through Pool C on their way to a potential semi-final showdown with Australia. If you’re looking for a ‘weakness’, the fact they must confront the Kangaroos before the final is the only drawback for the 2008 champions.

History at World Cup: The Kiwis have been a mainstay of the World Cup, having taken part in every tournament since the inaugural tournament in France in 1954. Their finest moment came in 2008 at Suncorp Stadium when Benji Marshall led them to a stunning 34-20 upset win in the final against Australia.


Match Highlights: Kiwis v Mate Ma’a Tonga



Squad: James Bentley (Leeds), Keanan Brand (Leigh), Liam Byrne (Wigan), Ed Chamberlain (Leigh), Josh Cook (Bulldogs), Frankie Halton (Hull KR), James Hasson (Rabbitohs), Jaimin Jolliffe (Titans), Luke Keary (Roosters), Joe Keyes (Halifax), Toby King (Warrington), George King (Captain) (Hull KR), Ben Mathiou (Featherstone), James McDonnell (Wigan), Ronan Michael (York), Robbie Mulhern (Warrington), Richie Myler (Leeds), Dan Norman (St Helens), Henry O’Kane (Wests Tigers), Harry Rushton (Huddersfield), Innes Senior (Huddersfield), Louis Senior (Hull KR), Michael Ward (Batley).

Key Player: Roosters superstar Luke Keary, who qualifies for Ireland through his father, is set to be one of the star attractions. The 30-year-old had 22 try assists and 20 line break assists in 22 games for the Roosters this season and will form handy halves combination with Leeds veteran Richie Myler, who helped the Rhinos to the Super League decider where they went down to St Helens. Myler has previously played eight Tests for England but has switched allegiances to Ireland.


Welcome back Keary


Strengths: Coach Ged Corcoran will roll out a powerful pack featuring Gold Coast’s Jaimin Jolliffe and Hull KR’s George King in the middle, former Raider Harry Rushton on the edge and Wigan prop Liam Byrne doing the heavy lifting alongside Warrington’s Robbie Mulhern.

Weaknesses: Having not made an international appearance since the European Qualifiers in late 2019, Ireland may take some time to get their combinations going, but their passion coupled with Keary’s class gives them a real shot at moving into the knockout stages.

History at World Cup: The Wolfhounds are appearing at their fifth World Cup after being there in 2000, 2008, 2013 and 2017. Their best results came in 2000, where they made it to the quarter-finals and were beaten by England, and in 2008 when they finished on top of their pool and progressed to a semi-final qualifier against Fiji, which they lost 30-14.



Squad: Jordan Andrade (unnattached), Mo Agoro (Keighley Cougars), Chevaughn Bailey (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Joe Brown (Workington Town), Jy-Mel Coleman (Unattached), Joel Farrell (Sheffield Eagles), Ashton Golding (Huddersfield Giants), Bradley Ho (Keighley Cougars), Greg Johnson (Batley Bulldogs), Aaron Jones-Bishop (Cornwall RLFC), Ben Jones-Bishop (Sheffield Eagles), Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants), Abevia McDonald (London Skolars), Khamisi McKain (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Jacob Ogden (York City Knights), Ross Peltier (Dewsbury Rams), Kieran Rush (Huddersfield Giants), Andrew Simpson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Marvin Thompson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Keenen Tomlinson (Dewsbury Rams), Renaldo Wade (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), AJ Wallace (Bradford Bulls), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax Panthers), Alex Young (Workington Town)

Key Player: Michael Lawrence has played more than 300 matches in the forwards for the Huddersfield Giants and previously represented England Knights. The 190cm, 105kg lock made his Huddersfield debut as a 17-year-old in 2007, becoming the first Super League player born in the 1990s to make his Super League debut. “Pulling on a shirt feels massive,” he said. “It feels like you’re representing the whole Caribbean community in the UK and all the people who came over from Jamaica,” he said earlier this year.

Strengths: The fighting spirit that carried them to a 16-10 win over the USA in Jacksonville in 2018 which secured their ticket to the Big Dance. They have since followed up with another win over the USA in 2019 and a draw against Scotland so the belief is growing that they belong on the world stage.

Weaknesses: The absence of Kallum Watkins and Dom Young, who are both playing for England, leaves the Cup debutants short on strike power, although veteran flyer Ben Jones-Bishop continues to rack up impressive tryscoring numbers, including 20 in 28 games for Sheffield this season.

History at World Cup: Jamaica are making their maiden World Cup appearance having qualified for the tournament by winning the 2018 Americas Championship.



Squad: Jalal Bazzaz (Wests Illawarra), Adam Doueihi (Wests Tigers), Hanna El-Nachar (Panthers), Toufic El-Hajj (American University of Beirut), Elie El-Zakhem (Eels), Atef Hamdan (Wolves, Lebanon), Kayne Kalache (Newtown Jets), Andrew Kazzi (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jacob Kiraz (Bulldogs), Bilaal Maarbani (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles), Anthony Layoun (St Marys Saints), Josh Mansour (Rabbitohs), Josh Maree (Wentworthville United), Tony Maroun (Ryde-Eastwood Hawks), Abbas Miski (Wigan Warriors), Brandon Morkos (Raiders), Mitchell Moses (Eels), Jaxson Rahme (Rabbitohs), Khalil Rahme (Mt Pritchard Mounties), Khaled Rajab (Bulldogs), Reece Robinson (unattached), James Roumanos (Sea Eagles), Mikey Tannous (Wests Tigers), Charbel Tasipale (Newtown Jets).

Key Player: Mitch Moses can put the heartache of Parramatta’s grand final loss behind him by teaming up with Adam Doueihi to lead Lebanon into the knockout stages. Moses enjoyed a magnificent NRL season and his kicking game and vision will be critical to coach Michael Cheika’s game plan.


Moses parts the D

Strengths: A potential back five of Jacob Kiraz, who ran for 128 metres per game for the Bulldogs in 2022, former Origin and Test winger Josh Mansour, former Sea Eagle Abbas Miski, Raiders youngster Brandon Morkos and experienced wingman Reece Robinson, who boasts 57 tries in 120 NRL games.

Weaknesses: Plenty to like about the squad the Cedars have assembled after adding NRL stars to the team that downed Malta 30-14 at Belmore Sports Ground in June. Coach Michael Cheika was reportedly in tears as he watched on via live stream from Argentina where he was on Test duty with Los Pumas. Perhaps a little light on up front with Wests Tigers big man Alex Twal unavailable and that’s where they’ll find the going tough, especially against the Kiwis.

History at World Cup: The Cedars played at the 2000 and 2017 World Cups, making the quarter-finals five years ago, where they went down narrowly to Tonga in Christchurch.