Jamaica could spring surprises in Rugby League World Cup, says coach


Jamaica could spring surprises in Rugby League World Cup, says coach

Friday, January 17, 2020

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Jamaica have been drawn in Group C of the Rugby League World Cup and will face powerhouse New Zealand, Ireland and Lebanon in the first round of the competition in England next year.

Jamaica are first-time qualifiers to the Rugby League World Cup and are the first Caribbean nation to do so after they defeated the USA 16-10 in the Americas Championship final in 2018.

Australia and England are among the other rugby powerhouses to feature in next year's World Cup which consists of four groups of four countries.

Head Coach Romeo Monteith is pleased with the draw that Jamaica received.

“I am happy with this morning's (yesterday's) draw. I think that Jamaica facing up against New Zealand, Ireland and Lebanon presents some very interesting matchups. We definitely fancy our chances of giving it a good go, especially against Ireland and Lebanon.

“New Zealand is one of the top nations in the world, so it's going to be a difficult matchup against them, but definitely it will be a big experience for the boys to face off against one of the traditional powerhouses of rugby league,” noted Monteith.

He is hoping that the Jamaica Reggae Warriors can spring a few surprises and get out of the first round of the competition.

“I think Jamaica will fancy our chances of springing at least one or two upsets, but at the end of the day, the important thing is the journey of being in a World Cup, being the first Caribbean nation to qualify for Rugby League World Cup, and I think it's a journey we are going to enjoy,” the coach told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Time is on the side of Monteith's boys, and he is hoping to make full use of the opportunity.

“Having over a year to prepare for these games to make our World Cup debut is good. New Zealand is the number one country in the world, so we know that that team will be our most difficult opponent.

“We believe in ourselves that we can knock off Lebanon and Ireland, both highly ranked teams. Lebanon were in the quarter-finals in the last World Cup in 2017, but we definitely fancy our chances against these teams. The time allows us to do proper video analysis of their playing structures over the last few years,” said Monteith.

He expects a new-look Lebanon team compared to the one that played in the last World Cup, but aims to do everything necessary to ensure success against them.

“Lebanon may be a bit of an unknown entity because the team that played and made the quarter finals in 2017, I am not sure if a lot of those players will be retained in the team.

“A lot of them were older guys, some heading to the end of their careers so I suspect that there might be quite a few who will not be in the team so we have to watch and see what type of team they field this year and next year in the lead up to the World Cup to make certain strategic decisions as to how we play them, but we are happy with the draw, we think we will do well in our debut,” noted Monteith.

Speaking with typical Jamaican bravado, the coach says that now that qualification has been secured and the teams that they will be playing against are known, the Jamaican Reggae Warriors will be heading to England to leave an indelible mark on the world of Rugby League.

“The target was always to get there. Now that we are there we have to set ourselves some new targets, some new dreams some new ambitions and right now what we are saying can we create some major upsets and get into the quarter-finals.

“To do that we have to knock off both Lebanon and Ireland and as a performance group that is certainly the type of goal we have to set ourselves. We are not just going there to participate but to compete and do our best,” he assured.

— Dwayne Richards

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