Martin Offiah backing home success at World Cup

Martin Offiah
England players Jodie Cunningham and Tom Halliwell with rugby league legend Martin Offiah with the Rugby League World Cup 2021 trophies in London Photo by Kieran Cleeves/PA.

Rugby league legend Martin Offiah has backed home success at this year’s World Cup in England. 

England will participate in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions later this autumn. Shaun Wane’s side kick-off the tournament on October 15 against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

The record-breaking former Wigan winger, one of rugby league’s all time-greats, believes England can go all the way in all three competitions later this year.

“You’ve got to back yourself in a home World Cup, absolutely,” Offiah told Love Rugby League. “I was fortune enough to play in a World Cup on home soil in 1995.

“Shaun Wane hasn’t picked his side, but I’m sure a lot of players will be on tenterhooks waiting to see if they’ve been selected.

“I’m also looking forward to the women’s game. They have announced their squad, with 11 St Helens players in the team as a dominant club. It will be an amazing competition.

“The fact we have all of them competing at the same time will enable us to have a lot of eyes on the sport. If we can be successful on all those fronts, it’s a fantastic opportunity to grow the game.”

Martin Offiah: ‘I’m backing England in all three competition’ 

Offiah insists a successful World Cup will bring more eyes to the sport, and believes the three sides can draw inspiration from the Lionesses and their recent Euros success on home soil.  

“This World Cup is designed to bring more fans in,” Offiah continued.

“Seeing what the Lionesses have done, it’s put a lot of pressure on the men going into FIFA World Cup in Qatar. It all starts from grassroots sports.

“It’s going to be tough. I’ve seen the Fiji squad and the likes of Samoa and Tonga. The vast majority of those players come from the NRL.

“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s a home World Cup. It’s not every day you get to play in a home World Cup, for most players it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

“You’ve got to grab that opportunity. I was joking with Shaun Wane at the Challenge Cup final and I said to him if you win this World Cup, you’re going to get a knighthood!

“I’m backing England in all three competitions. We’ve got to back the nation.”

National Lottery’s backing

Offiah was present at community club Brixton Bulls on Tuesday as part of the World Cup build-up. The event also showed how the National Lottery funding is positively impacting the sport.

Offiah added: “The National Lottery has done great work for grassroots sport. I didn’t realise that National Lottery has invested more than £5.7billion pounds into grassroots sport since 1994.

“That funding translates at the success at the top level. We’ve got the National Lottery to thank for the investment which is going into our great sport.”

National Lottery players are providing over £9.3m of vital support to Rugby League between 2022-2027 to aid the development of Rugby League across the country. This includes £750,000 to support communities across England through the RLWC21 CreatedBy Grants Programme as well as providing vital funding for the Women’s & Girls’ game during the pandemic.

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About Josh McAllister 2101 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.

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