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Terry O'Connor looks ahead to Cook Islands versus Tonga
5:56pm Sunday 3rd November 2013 in Sport
FORMER Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors and Ireland international Terry O'Connor looks forward to the Cook Islands versus Tonga clash at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday, as well as reflecting on the tournament so far.
And, iF you fancy seeing the Rugby League World Cup in style, book a hospitality package at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday when broadcaster O'Connor will be hospitality host.
He will be joined by St Helens skipper Paul Wellens, who is currently assisting with the England squad, Widnes coach Denis Betts and all the squad players from the two teams who aren't playing on the night.
We spoke to Terry about how he thought the RLWC was panning out, and what he hopes for Tuesday.
The Aussies look strong, don’t they?
They do. The big thing they have in their favour is that their four strike players have all played for them for a number of years, and also for Queensland in State Of Origin. Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston are just pure quality. Add Greg Inglis in there too and you’re looking at a wonderful side. England just need to believe they can challenge that next time.
New Zealand vs Samoa has been a real highlight, hasn't it?
Tell you what, it’s times like that when you’re thankful you’re retired. It was ridiculous. I was standing next to Paul Sculthorpe and Denis Betts, and Scully’s telling me the hairs on the back of his neck are standing up and he wishes he was playing. And I was like, “are you mad? Why would you want to be in the middle of that, with that bloke running at you at 100 miles an hour trying to knock you into next week!” But then, I guess that’s why Scully looks like he does, and I look like I do!
What’s really come across in this tournament is the admiration for the sacrifices these players make.
The lads who play the game are magnificent people. I did the shirt presentation for Ireland against Fiji and you just look in the players' eyes and know they’re up for it. Someone like Brett White, who has played State Of Origin and played for Australia… he’s in the back of the room videoing the presentation. It means that much to them. They love the World Cup, they want to be a part of it.
And so do the fans. Sold out signs are going up all over the place
I know. You look at Fiji, who Ireland were playing that night. They’ve got Uata on the wing, Civoniceva… how often do we see players of that quality coming over here? It’s a brilliant competition – I was a part of the last one we hosted here, and in 2008 too, and it’s just a great experience. We always crave column inches in rugby league and we’re getting them this time by staging a world tournament with the best players at fantastic modern stadiums like Leigh Sports Village.
Tonga and Cook Islands should be a real battle too, particularly as both teams now need to win
I remember Sam Moa playing for Tonga in 2008 – now he’s starting for New Zealand and absolutely killing it. That’s just an example of the talent Tonga have at their disposal. I think that when you’ve been involved in the international game you know that the island nations don’t hold back. It’s like a test of manhood with them, they won’t side-step, they’ll go flying into tackles. But they also play rugby, their skill levels are second to none. And LSV will be a great venue for it, because the pitch and surroundings will mean they can show off their talents. It’ll be a great atmosphere.
So what will you be doing on the night?
Well, I’ll go around the boxes with Paul, Denis and the players, and we'll chat to people, basically. We also want people to ask questions of the players, so feel free to send them in advance and we’ll make sure they’re answered! It should be a great night.
To book corporate hospitality e-mail Gareth Hardcastle on G.Hardcastle@leighsportsvillage.co.uk.
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