Lebanon head coach Michael Cheika believes that this World Cup has been a big boost to the growth of international rugby league.
His Lebanon side fell to a 48-4 defeat at the hands of reigning champions Australia in the Quarter Finals last week.
However, it was another successful tournament for Lebanon, qualifying for a second successive quarter-final and picking up some impressive wins over Ireland and Jamaica.
“I think there’s a huge opportunity for league internationally to grow,” an optimistic Cheika said. “It’s a great game to watch. It’s got everything you want in a sport from a spectator point of view and you’re making heroes for kids across Greece, Jamaica or Scotland.”
Despite a number of one-sided score lines, Cheika believes the most important thing is growing rugby league in new nations.
“I know there’s been talks about the scores but you’ve got to stay on with things,” he dismissed. “I think having all the teams here who have put their names on team lists and gone out and played, it’s an essential part of developing the game internationally.
“Personally, I never thought I’d see the day where my kids are playing the rugby league video games and they are playing with Moses of Lebanon and Andrew Kazzi and Anthony Layoun.”
Michael Cheika on the possibility of future test matches for Lebanon
Cheika believes that the chances of Lebanon playing a test match at home next year are slim. But that they hope to play more games ahead of the 2025 World Cup.
“I don’t think we could (play in Lebanon) because they’ll be finishing seasons and stuff like that. We will definitely look for more games, no doubt about it, but we’ll have to pick the right games around windows so it will be different tiers of games.
“Our end goal for the Australia-based crew is trying to get as many NRL players of Lebanese descent as possible so that when we come to 2025, we’ll be stronger.”