But the real test comes in doing it all again. Great Britain have scored one-off wins over the Kangaroos before in recent years – admittedly not on Australian soil – and challenge comes in beating them at least a second time, in the tournament final later this month.
Actually winning the series is the only way to show pundits like Phil Gould that they are wrong about the national side, and that we are capable of competing on an even footing with both Australia and New Zealand. Otherwise we are no nearer than before to actually claiming a trophy.
The first step in our mission comes this week, against a New Zealand side still smarting from the pints deduction placed upon them for fielding an ineligible player. The Kiwis thought they had one foot in the final already, and now they will be going all out to ensure that they defend their title.
If the Lions want to claim the Tri-Nations title they must overcome this obstacle. After last week’s performance people may have a lot more faith in them.
Send Off The Biff
One of the biggest questions arising from last week’s game was: just how did Willie Mason stay on the pitch? His punch on Stuart Fielden was one thing, but his attack on Sean Long was a total disgrace.
To deepen the mystery still further, while Mason was placed on report for both incidents, he was only cited for the punch on Fielden. In my opinion this was the lesser of the two offences, the one for which Mason should certainly have been sent from the field.
Had referee Ashley Klein done the right thing and sent Mason to the bin after the first incident, the second incident may never have happened. This, in my opinion, is a case of the referee failing to look after the players’ safety.
The one-match suspension is something to be thankful for, but Mason should not have stayed on the pitch past the ninth minute of Saturday’s game. Hopefully when he takes to the field in the final nobody suffers a serious injury.
League of Nations
The Nathan Fien controversy has unearthed the whole issue of nationality in international rugby league. Is it right that players can represent more than one country, and is there doing so sapping credibility from the game?
One example is that of Michael Sullivan, who was due to be selected for Ireland but was found to hold only a great-grand parents connection similar to Fien’s. Other examples are Henry Fa’afili, who played for New Zealand six months ago but is now playing for Samoa; while Auckland-born Willie Mason has represented both Tonga and Australia.
This problem is one that could be solved if players were forced to pick one country to represent. However, that could cause serious problems for some of the smaller RL playing nations in raising a competitive team – especially with a World Cup on the horizon.
It doesn’t seem as though there is a satisfactory solution. The best thing to do is just to ensure that the current regulations are upheld, otherwise the situation could become a complete farce.
Keep Your Eye On Rugby League