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