AUSTRALIA will win today’s World Cup final by 16 points or more.
I am sure about that. It seems they have been preparing for the actual final throughout the tournament.
That is through no sense of arrogance, though, just realism.
They have been putting their game together piece by piece and have certainly got their defensive issues sorted; conceding no tries in four games is an absolutely remarkable feat at any level.
They have been building and building and are now ready to give the outstanding performance of the competition.
People can say they haven’t been tested since the opening game and they might be taken back by the intensity New Zealand bring to it, just like the Kiwis were rattled early on by England last week.
Well, I just say get ready for them to handle that and anything else that comes their way.
Australia don’t mind being knocked around. They thrive on it. And then just get up and give it all back. I know they are ready.
Billy Slater is desperate to play to put right those howlers he made in the 2008 World Cup final.
But if he isn’t 100 per cent and I was Tim Sheens I wouldn’t pick him. I wouldn’t gamble. With Greg Inglis at full-back and Michael Jennings and Brent Tate to come in at centre, they have so many options they just don’t need to risk him.
Sonny Bill Williams got World Player of the Year on Wednesday but, for me, Sam Burgess should have got it.
I know he wasn’t even on the shortlist but there is no doubting in my mind that he’s the best forward on the planet.
I really rate SBW but I think Sam Burgess’s performance against New Zealand last week was one of the best from anyone in an England or Great Britain jersey that I’ve seen in my lifetime.
He is an absolute power. He’s got great footwork for such a big man as we saw going behind the ruck and for his try.
He off-loaded through the line for Sean O’Loughlin’s try yet when it comes to carting it away from your own line he can put massive metres in, too.
Then there is his defence where he just belts everyone. He’s an outstanding player and you can have all the Aussie and Kiwi accents in the world but Sam Burgess is the sport’s best forward.
As for that final, it’s a shame it’s not England v Australia as that would have been the perfect way to round off a terrific tournament.
I think the Aussies wanted it, too, as they know there’d be an amazing atmosphere at Old Trafford.
But it isn’t. New Zealand did what they did at Wembley and that was a really heartbreaking way to lose for England last week.
They played magnificently and Kevin Sinfield was exactly right when he said the best team lost.
I thought it was one of the best sporting spectacles of the year, better than any football, rugby union or tennis match; two elite teams scrapping it out in a game full of skill, strength, passion and drama aplenty.
For England now it’s about carpe diem; seize the day.
They have advanced but the schedule has to be sorted sooner rather than later and we have to see more Tri-Nations.
Wales missed an opportunity after the ’95 World Cup. They never capitalised on the strides they made back then. England cannot afford to do likewise.
Interview by Dave Craven.