Experience of Kangaroos counts for plenty
THE Kangaroos' selection policy of sticking solid with experience may not be everyone's cup of tea, but former Australian international Shaun Berrigan believes it will result in the World Cup trophy returning Down Under.
The Aussies, who have not won the global event since 2000, have only three players in their squad from this year's thrilling grand final between the Roosters and Manly.
The team will open its tournament against England at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff tonight.
One of the points of contention among rugby league fans is veteran Brent Tate being preferred in the centres ahead of Roosters superstar Michael Jennings.
But Berrigan has played alongside Tate at both Origin and international level and believes the whole-hearted Cowboys player will not let anyone down.
Tate has come back from neck and knee injuries, a busted jaw and a broken shoulder during his 10 years at the top, and is still an outstanding player at 31.
"I'm good mates with Brent. He's been through a lot - he's so tough and he's an absolute competitor," said Berrigan, who played 14 Tests for his country before retiring from the NRL while at the Raiders this year.
"He's still great in defence, still fast and hard to tackle."
Berrigan believes you need to master the basics to win a World Cup tournament, which is why he feels Australia has put itself in a good position by opting for an experienced team.
"You need to hold on to the football and complete your sets to win these tournaments," he said.
"Not one player will win it. The best 17 that sticks together will, and I think that's why (Kangaroos coach) Tim Sheens has picked older players.
"They know what needs to be done. I can't tip against Australia."
Berrigan, who lost his only two Kangaroos games against Great Britain, believed England would be a difficult proposition in game one, despite being upset by Italy in a trial.
"Losing that game could be a blessing for them - it should make them more dangerous," he said.
"They've also had some discipline problems with Gareth Hock and James Graham being stood down for drinking. That'll only fire them up even more."
Berrigan said despite England naming three Burgess brothers - Sam, George and Thomas - in its squad, the key to limiting their effectiveness would be to run them around. That responsibility would largely fall on the Kangaroos' smaller players.