Feast yer eyes ..
Australia legend Geoff Toovey doesn't care about bringing down Kangaroos with SamoaDavid Craven - Yesterday 4:00 am
Kangaroos legend Geoff Toovey has warned Australia they need to be “careful” as his Samoa colleagues plot the biggest World Cup upset in rugby league history.
The ex-Manly scrum-half played for the Green and Golds 12 times including in the 1995 World Cup final win over England at Wembley. But he’ll be in the Samoa camp for Saturday’s Old Trafford decider as they seek to end 11-times champions Australia’s historic domination. Toovey, 53, is part of the Pacific island’s coaching staff working towards masterminding a gameplan to down the huge 1/9 favourites.
Asked what it will be like for him going up against his fellow countrymen, the former New South Wales State of Origin skipper said: “I don’t care. I’m a competitor, no matter what. I’m here to win for Samoa. And if we put on a good performance we’re in there with a chance. We just need to try and get blokes bandaged up, fit and firing ready to go.
“It was a great performance against England in the semi, particularly after we got touched up in the first round by them. But the boys have improved every game and hopefully we can go one better again this week. It’s going to be tough. We’re well and truly the underdogs. But we were underdogs last Saturday and Australia has to be careful.”
Slick Samoa have won every game since being embarrassed 60-6 by England in Newcastle to reach their maiden World Cup final. And their side is littered with swathes of NRL talent such as Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Junior Paulo and Joseph Suaalii so those massively one-sided odds are disrespectful in a two-horse race. But it shows the perceived aura Australia have under Toovey’s former Kangaroos team-mate Mal Meninga.
Tough Toovey, renowned for punching above his weight in his playing days, can’t wait to see dazzling Penrith stand-off Jarome Luai take on the champions.
He said: “He’s playing fantastic. He’s got two man of the matches in this tournament. He’s a quality player and he’s surrounded by some quality people. They’re doing their heritage very proud with Samoa. The vibe around the world at the moment - we're getting videos from all over the place, back home and Samoa - shows they’re very excited and very pleased with how they’re team is going.”
But Samoa were left counting the cost of their epic 27-26 golden point semi-final win over England with injury doubts over various players. Still, Toovey will be able to give them some insight into what it’s like to win a World Cup after beating an England side featuring Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell and Martin Offiah 27 years ago. He recalled: “I thought we played particularly well that day at Wembley.
“But New Zealand almost had us in the semi-final. It was very close. “If Matthew Ridge had made his kick at goal with two minutes to go we’d possibly have lost the game. It’s always about taking opportunities when they present themselves and this is what’s happened with Samoa. We have an opportunity now and we are there. We have to take our opportunity with both hands.”
Toovey was Bradford coach briefly in 2017 and he added: “It’s great to be back. I love the British game. I love the people. I love the fans. “They’re fantastic. I'm really pleased I can get involved with that again as, for me, that’s something that we don’t have back in Australia: the supporters’ culture.”
Meanwhile, England will be back in action with their mid-season international against France confirmed at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday April 29 (4.30) England Women face France (2pm) in a double-header.
PSS ..... In a small story in the Tele today ... 2V said that he hopes the asst gig with Samoa leads to a return to the NRL