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Why Mal Meninga is “disappointed” with World Cup number changes


Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has vented his frustration with the Rugby League World Cup organisers for their decision to scrap the traditional position-based number formats.

The decision was reportedly proposed to all the federations in 2019 by the event organisers and was voted on by the countries who had qualified for the World Cup.

Meninga stated he had no say on the vote and was bitterly upset that the motion passed.

“We signed off on it about two years ago, so I have no real comeback on it… We had no idea when it was signed off on,” Meninga said on SENQ Mornings.

“We have 13 debutants on tour, so the jersey that they get to play in for the very first test is their tour number, Isaiah Yeo is number 24 mainly because of where he sits on the alphabet, he is the premier 13 of our competition.

“It takes away from the excitement of your debutants in particular, having their very first test match jersey and it’s a number that doesn’t resonate with anyone, because it’s not the position he plays in.

Meninga also noted that the change will have more of an effect on the fans and commentators than anything else.

“The supporters will be trying to understand who’s in the 24 jersey that’s playing in the middle,” Meninga said.

“I’m just a little bit disappointed for the players from a positional point of view, because the first jersey they put on won’t be the one they play in.

“A lot of teams might pick a 1-17, but we’re not in a position to do that because we’ve got 24 great players and I’m not to sure who will make up the final 17, when we hopefully go into the Grand Final of a World Cup.

Meninga also gave an insight into who possibly may start in the first game against Fiji on Sunday morning, noting that the Parramatta and Penrith players will be given a rest, giving Daley Cherry-Evans to chance to start alongside Cameron Munster in the halves.

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