Matt Parish: It’s by far the strongest World Cup ever

Rugby League World Cup 2021 Matt Parish Elliot Kear SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Samoa head coach Matt Parish believes this year’s World Cup tournament is the strongest ever with 16 teams to feature in the Men’s tournament.

The side will open the World Cup campaign against hosting nation England this Saturday at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

And while Parish admits his side will be under-prepared for the clash having only trained once together so far, he is excited by his star-studded squad who are joint-third favourites to win the tournament alongside Shaun Wane’s men. 

“We’re under-done for the first game,” he said. “England played a trial match while our boys were all on a plane.

“We had our first session this morning with our squad. We’ll have two more sessions this week and then we’ve got to play the opening World Cup game.

“I’ve no doubt we will play well.”

Matt Parish: ‘It’s a big occasion and we need to rise to it’

Eight NRL Grand Finalists from Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers are included in Parish’s squad. Several NRL stars including the likes of Josh Papalii and Joseph Suaalii committed their allegiance to Samoa, having been eyed up to play for tier one nations. 

“It’s very pleasing and humbling that they have chosen Samoa,” Parish said. 

“They realise there’s a group of young people that can do something. We’ve a very young squad but very exciting too.

“If you look at the teams that are competing, it’s by far the strongest World Cup ever, the most even, and it’s exciting to be part of. We’ve got some confidence but got some work to do to.

“It’s a big occasion and we need to rise to it. I’ve got no doubt they will. A lot of our boys have played in Grand Finals, we’ve got some young boys too. 

“I’m confident with the players and the staff we’ve got.”

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About Josh McAllister 2126 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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