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The Age

A fear of failure spurs Australia

Date: 27/10/1995
Words: 535
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport Age
Page: 39
London, Friday.

Australia's Kangaroos need only the fear factor to motivate themselves for tomorrow's rugby league World Cup final showdown with England at Wembley Stadium.

One of the most intriguing international league battles of the past two decades will be staged in front of an anticipated crowd of more than 65,000.

And Australian captain Brad Fittler admits the thought of losing the world crown the Kangaroos first took away from England in 1975 would be a major motivating factor.

``Of course there's fear, but I'd prefer not to talk about losing. Although . . . I have thought about not wanting to be in the team that lost for Australia."

Australian coach Bob Fulton reckons fear is good. ``It's a good thing to have, I think it keeps them on their toes.

But there is a great confidence in the camp and only a fool would say we haven't improved since that first loss against England."

Not only is a 20-year reign in jeopardy, but the Australian Rugby League's decision to leave Super League players out will again be questioned if the Kangaroos lose.

``There's plenty of pressure because we've gone so well this year with Super League going on, but we want to prove one more time that we're worthy of being here and that we can win it without Super League players," said full-back Tim Brasher.

``We want to prove them wrong but I know if we lose they'll be saying the Super League players should have been here."

A week of off-field controversy has Fulton facing investigation by an international disciplinary committee and his wife, Anne, has been threatened with legal action. Fulton was accused of verbally attacking referees coordinator Greg McCallum during the semi-final win and McCallum alleged that Anne Fulton abused and humiliated him in a Leeds restaurant.

In the English camp the worry has been with the fitness of players - captain Shaun Edwards ruled himself out with an infected knee while coach Phil Larder is still waiting to make a decision on Wigan centre Gary Connolly, who has been suffering from pneumonia.

Larder has named a starting line-up and a two-man bench and is not expected to add the other two players until shortly before kick-off. But stand-in captain Denis Betts remains confident that this will be England's best ever chance to knock the Aussies over.

``Mentally we've been trying for the past four or five years to cross a bridge to where we know we can beat the Aussies twice in a series," Betts said. ``We've been falling a little bit short but now we're ready to take that last step and prove ourselves as being worthy world champions."

Australia is 4/7 favorite, despite being beaten by England 20-16 in the opening match of the tournament and then having to go into extra time to beat the Kiwis 30-20 in the semi- final. The home side is rated a 5/4 chance although its players carry an unbeaten tournament record into the game after wins over Australia, Fiji, South Africa and Wales.

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