AUSTRALIAN vice captain Boyd Cordner warns not to write off New Zealand in this year’s Rugby League World Cup starting on Friday October 27.
Keiran Foran’s withdrawal through injury and Jason Taumalolo’s decision to play with Tonga rocked the Kiwis, along with the suspensions of Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich after they were busted for cocaine use following the Anzac Day test. However, Cordner said New Zealand is always a tough opponent and believes they’ll revel in the adversity.
“I remember we played them in an Anzac Day test a couple of years ago when they had a few of their stars out and no-one gave them a chance,’’ he said.
“But they were leading us at halftime and it was a really tough game. They have some quality players and they lift when they put the New Zealand jumper on.’’
Cordner, 25, is back in the Manning for a couple of days R and R before heading to camp with the Australian side on Sunday. The Kangaroos are at Winx-like odds to retain the World Cup. But Cordner expects it will be a tough tournament. He said he ‘can't wait’ until the kick off.
“Obviously England and New Zealand will be strong and so should Tonga, with Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita in their side,’’ he said.
He added that Fiji and Samoa should also field competitive teams bolstered by NRL stars. Cordner believes Australia’s opening match against the Wayne Bennett-coached England on October 27 will be a torrid encounter.
He captained Australia in the trials against Papua New Guinea and Fiji in Suva last weekend when Cameron Smith was rested, describing this as ‘massive honour.’
“It's something that I’m proud of,’’ Cordner added.
However, unless injury intervenes he doesn’t think he’ll get the opportunity again in the campaign.
“Cam will play every single game. I would expect nothing less,’’ Cordner said.
He’ll be in the Australian squad with champion Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk, who has been linked to Cordner’s side, the Sydney Roosters for 2018. Cordner claims this is ‘paper talk’ at this stage.
“I haven’t heard anything from the club,’’ he said before adding that he hasn’t spoken to Cronk about the possible move.
“Not yet,’’ he said.
Cordner, the NSW State of Origin captain, said he has no inside information on who might replace Laurie Daley as coach next year.
“I’ve heard the names that have been thrown up and they’re all quality coaches,’’ he said.
He said losing this year’s series when seemingly in an insurmountable position in game two was a wrench. But he’s not lingering on the disappointment.
“We had our chances to win the second game for sure. We were playing a quality side and in the end we didn’t get there,’’ Cordner said.
Cordner played his first game of football as a four-year-old with Old Bar Pirates under sixes at Old Bar. He linked with the Roosters via the Newcastle system as a 16-year-old. He is going into the final year of his current contract but hopes to stay at Bondi post 2018.
"The club’s been good to me – I’ve been there since I was a kid,’’ he said.
“I’d love to stay if they’ll have me.’’