BY JACOB BROWN
For the first time in a while, this Four Nations has the potential to be the best yet. Australia, England and New Zealand all seem capable of winning the competition and Scotland have their strongest squad ever. We are in for an exceptional tournament.
Joint Daily M medal winner Taumalolo is arguably the worlds best forward in rugby league at the moment. He was brilliant in 2015 as the Cowboys won the grand final and he carried on his outstanding form into this season. He is a one club man at North Queensland and has previously played for Tonga before switching his nationality to become a Kiwi and made his debut in 2014 against Australia. Taumalolo played last week also against Australia in a friendly but had a small amount of game time in order to keep him fresh ahead of the four nations opener vs England. He was injured for last years test series but he is back and keen to show England how good he is.
Youngster Valentine Holmes is also an outstanding prospect for Australia. He starred in his debut for his country last week vs New Zealand by scoring and getting an assist for his centre Greg Inglis. Cronulla Shark Holmes, who’s just won the grand final, finished the season with 19 tries (3rd in the league). He only made his NRL debut in 2014 but has took the league by storm since then by scoring 181 points (averaging just under a try per game). He was invited to train with New Zealand after his debut season but just 3 days later he declined and pledged his international future to the Aussies. He is a very, very exciting winger who is expected to be a hero for the years to come. He isn’t named for this weeks game vs Scotland but is expected to be played for the other games when Mal Meninga reverts to his strongest line up.
Very few rugby league fans/experts would have expected for him to have such an impact after leaving Hull KR for the Canberra Raiders in 2015. In my opinion, he was an average hooker before leaving for Australia but he has set the league alight down under. For a lot of the season he was leading the Daily M standings (NRL’s equivalent of the man of steel) which would have been historic for an Englishman. He didn’t win the Daily M or get into the team of the season which was met by disgust by a lot of NRL fans. He is certainly a classy player and is lethal when he links up with Canberra team mate Elliott Whitehead. He will be one of the stars of the tournament if he can perform as well as he did this season.
Huddersfield scrum half/full back Brierley is also a player to watch in the four nations. It is unlikely for the Scottish to win a game against any team but Brierley is definitely a player to watch. Super league and championship fans will be familiar with him but he is virtually unknown overseas. He is lightning quick with a great rugby brain and can break the line at any point. He’s shown himself as a very capable number 1 or 6 this season since his mid season move from Leigh Centurions to the Giants. With Lachlan Coote/Matty Russell more than likely playing full back, he will probably partner club mate and Scotland captain Danny Brough in the halves. A really exciting and unpredictable duo.
Definitely the most recognisable and well known player in this list, Greg Inglis keeps producing the goods for club and country year on year. It has been a forgettable season for Inglis’s team South Sydney Rabbitohs but has been one of the best players for his team despite new England Sam Burgess picking up the main awards at the clubs end of season awards night. This year Inglis has played Origin, captained the Indigenous all stars, captained the Australian prime ministers XIII against Papua New Guinea as well as his captain duties at South Sydney. He’s had a turbulent year positional wise as he’s varied between full back and centre as well as a short stint at stand off. But despite this, as he showed last week in a man of the match display at centre vs New Zealand, he is still capable of producing the best at the top level. He is a ruthless runner of the ball as well as an aggressive defender and will form an exceptional partnership with young star Valentine Holmes on his wing.
Originally published on the18thman.com