We’ve got something pretty cool running for the next couple of months.
The Rugby League World Cup kicked off in Melbourne on Friday Night with a blockbuster match between Australia and the old enemy England.
While that game was a little underwhelming, it started what should be a fantastic two months of rugby league, both on and off field.
Just this weekend we’ve already seen an Acknowledgment of Country by the Australians led by Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.
The Kiwis pulled out their famous Haka in Auckland, which was countered perfectly by a traditional Samoan war dance.
We had Tongans shedding tears during their national anthem, a spine-tingling hymn from the Fijians, and a return to the World Cup for Lebanon after a 17-year absence.
Possibly most impressive was the atmosphere in Port Moresby when the Kumuls had a thumping win in front of their league-mad fans.
It hasn’t been all good though, as the first weekend was marred by a number of serious injuries.
The Aussies lost their starting lock Jake Trbojevic to a pectoral injury about 40 minutes after English enforcer Sam Burgess was sidelined with medial ligament damage in his knee.
These may be the least of the injuries however. Kiwi Gerard Beale fractured both his tibia and fibula in a freak off the ball incident. Fijian prop Kane Evans broke his wrist in the act of scoring a try.
And Jack Johns, son of Knights and Sharks legend Matthew Johns, broke his arm playing for Italy.
Despite these injuries, the most common complaint that I’ve heard from fans is the fact there are too many Aussies and Kiwis playing for other countries.
This was especially prevalent during the recent spate of defections led by Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita.
Both of these men chose to play for Tonga despite being key figures in their respective countries’ World Cup plans.
I can understand the argument. Is it really a World Cup if most sides are just full of Australians or New Zealanders with an ethnic background?
I think the answer is yes. And I think the World Cup is a lot better for it.
A beautiful video emerged not long after Andrew Fifita’s decision of his grandfather crying when he found out his grandson would represent Tonga.
These players that are pulling on another country’s jersey are passionate about their heritage.
These countries will also have a massive following. All 14 nations that are competing at the World Cup have massive communities in Australia that will be cheering themselves hoarse.
But possibly the number one reason is the quality of competition.
We’re only 17 years removed from the 2000 World Cup that saw Australia beat Russia by 106 points only three days after England beat them 72.
Sure there were some blowouts over the first weekend, but I can’t see any game getting out of hand like that. The quality of these sides, especially due to the injection of Australian players, is too great.
So rather than complaining, let’s just sit back and enjoy the fact we still have rugby league on our TVs.