One year to go to 2013 Rugby League World Cup - reaction from Manchester press conference (From St Helens Star)
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One year to go to 2013 Rugby League World Cup - reaction from Manchester press conference
4:11pm Friday 26th October 2012 in Latest News
SAINTS' Samoan international Tony Puletua was in attendance as Rugby League World Cup 2013 celebrated the ‘one year to go’ mark today with a truly international media conference.
Players from all 14 competing nations were available to the press on the day that also marked the date that tickets for the tournament went on general sale.
It is a tournament that will see the Group A clash between Australia and Fiji take place at Saints' Langtree Stadium on November 2, 2013.
But today, eight players from across the globe, representing Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, Italy, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the USA answered questions from the media about their preparations for RLWC2013 via a specially created Google+ Hangout.
As well as Puletua, players from hosts England and Wales as well as Ireland, Scotland and Tonga were present at the press conference in MediaCityUK, the home of RLWC2013.
Puletua is expected to be a key figure next year in Daniel Anderson's national side, who also have former Warrington utility back Nigel Vagana on their coaching staff.
He is excited about the tournament and his country's opening game at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium on October 27.
"Coming up against the world champions first is a great opportunity for us to get up and running," said Puletua, who represented New Zealand in the 2000 World Cup and Samoa in the 2008 tournament.
"We're really looking forward to the challenge and coming together.
"Whatever side we put together will be a strong one.
"I think it's going to be a very important World Cup for rugby league in general to promote the game worldwide.
"And I think it's going to be a very different World Cup.
"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.
"It's going to be a very different World Cup compared to all the others in the past."
Winger Rhys Williams, Wales' leading try scorer of all time, is currently recovering from a knee operation and will not feature in the current Autumn International Series but he spoke of his nation, coached by Iestyn Harris and St Helens-based Lee Briers, building towards next year's big event.
"Iestyn and the team set very high standards," said the Warrington flyer.
"Of late, I don't think we've been hitting them standards.
"Against France last week we put in a proud performance but we need to turn these proud performances into winning performances.
"Come World Cup time, hopefully we'll have our full-strength team back and certainly aim for that first game against Italy at the Millennium Stadium to put in a good performance."
RLWC2013 General Manager Sally Bolton said: “We wanted a special event to mark this very significant milestone for the tournament.
"The one year to go date was too good an opportunity to miss and gave us a great way to launch our tickets going on general sale.
“Early tickets sales to the fans of the Rugby League clubs and those who pre-registered have been overwhelming. We’ve found that there is huge interest in the big games of the tournament, the opening double header at Cardiff and the semi-finals at Wembley in particular.
“Sales for the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford however have really exceeded our expectations, currently out-stripping the other venues by five to one. I’d urge anyone therefore to buy tickets for the final now to avoid missing out.
“We think that offering 55 per cent of our tickets at £20 or less to see the best players in the world represents fantastic value. This is the pinnacle of Rugby League, a global sport which delivers extraordinary speed, power and athleticism to the spectator.
“To gather players from all of the nations who will ultimately be responsible for making RLWC2013 the best Rugby League World Cup ever was a great way for us to kick off ticket sales.”
Tournament organisers are hoping to jump on the bandwagon of sporting fever generated by the London Olympics.
Bolton said: "I think it's a very exciting opportunity for us coming off the back of the Olympics.
"What the Olympics showed for us was that people are quite keen to watch new sports and to be part of a major sporting event.
"That presents us witha fantastic opportunity to get to new markets more than anything.
"One of our key objectives is to get beyond the existing market place and attract new spectators."
Huddersfield and England prop Eorl Crabtree said he did not feel added pressure of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup being the next major global event after the London Olympics but said he did feel that responsibility came with it.
"There's a massive template by the Olympics and hopefully we can do that ourselves," he said.
"We've done the Extraordinary campaign and I believe this World Cup needs to be extraordinary.
"We have to capture everyone's imagination to raise the profile of our game because we want the game to grow and get stronger."
RLWC2013 kicks off on October 26 2013 with both hosts playing at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Home side Wales take on tournament newcomers Italy and England face the old enemy Australia.
Tickets for all games are now available for purchase individually or with various special package options at www.rlwc2013.com