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Samoan pack ace Tony Puletua anticipates a competitive World Cup
10:15am Thursday 1st November 2012 in Sport
SAINTS Samoan pack star Tony Puletua believes the 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be more competitive than past tournaments.
With the one-year-to-go countdown now started, he feels certain that many top-flight stars with dual eligibility will align themselves with developing nations to enhance the quality on show, attract more interest to international rugby league and to help the sport grow at global level.
And the 33-year-old, who represented New Zealand at the 2000 event and Samoa in 2008, insists it is an important development after many lower ranked sides struggled to make an impact last time and have not kicked on since.
“I think it's going to be a very important World Cup for rugby league in general to promote the game worldwide,” he said.
“And I think it'’ going to be a very different World Cup to all the others in the past.
“You'll see a lot of teams pick up players who are playing at the top level at the moment.
“Hopefully that strengthens all the developing countries and we can have a much better World Cup where it’s much more even across the board."
As an example, Saints’ Anthony Laffranchi represented Australia in the 2008 tournament but is among a handful of first-grade players reported to have committed to Italy this time round.
Puletua said that Samoa coach and ex-Saints boss Daniel Anderson is working hard along with former Kiwi stand off Nigel Vagana to recruit as strong a squad as possible for the 28-game event.
The World Cup opens with a Millennium Stadium double header in Cardiff on October 26 and concludes with the final at Old Trafford in Manchester on November 30.
They need a strong start to the competition, with world champions New Zealand being their opening fixture at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Fiji, who face favourites Australia in their second game at Saints’ Langtree Park on November 2, are in a similar situation to Samoa, looking to bring in some top-flight talent in order to contend with the big guns for the benefit of the competition.
They will come up against a Kangaroos outfit in mean mood after losing out on the title in their own back yard four years ago.
Cronulla Sharks’ Test prop Paul Gallen said: “The core group of this Australia side has been together for three to four years.
“For a number of players it will be their last opportunity to play in a World Cup and after losing the 2008 tournament it is a definite motivation to win it back.”
Tickets for all games are now available for purchase individually or with various special package options at www.rlwc2013.com.