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25 Feb 2018 20:39
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Meninga's Cup final serve for Bennett

    Mal Meninga has produced pictures he claims shows England using the same ruck tactic Wayne Bennett has slammed ahead of the Rugby League World Cup final.

    - article from

    Mal Meninga has brandished photographs to turn the tables on coaching rival Wayne Bennett in a spicy lead up to Saturday night's Rugby league World Cup final.

    The Kangaroos coach said he was happy to "return serve" after England mentor Bennett claimed his Australian team have used a third defender to slow the ruck with spoiling tactics throughout the tournament.

    An England dossier of 26 examples was reported by News Corp Australia on Friday.

    When Meninga fronted the media he produced seven images of three England players in the ruck using the same "piggyback" tactic during their semi-final win over Tonga and at Wednesday's training session in preparation for the final.

    "There were some nice little pictures in the paper today (of Bennett's claims) well, I might show you some pictures, here we go," Meninga said.

    "I could show you a million examples of them doing the same thing.

    "It (ruck tactics) happens every week in the NRL - it's just a bit of mind games."

    The rival coaches reportedly fell out when former Queensland mentor Meninga beat seven-time premiership winner Bennett to the Kangaroos gig in 2015.

    But asked if the Cup final was personal, Meninga said: "No, it's all fun. It's all good.

    "We don't want to make it about me and Wayne.

    "Banter is good and if Wayne feels he needs to add to it I am happy to return serve."

    However, Meninga was unapologetic about his tactics.

    "You have to slow the ruck down. That's the game of rugby league," he said.

    "If you win the ruck then you are a great chance of being successful.

    "(But) we want to play footy and ...we have no issue with the referee - we reckon they referee the ruck pretty well."

    Asked if he expected referees boss Tony Archer to speak with him about his tactics before the game, Meninga said: "Not really.

    "It's in the paper today and I am pretty sure Tony would have rung me if there were issues."

    Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith said he wasn't surprised the wily Bennett had come out with the match eve claims.

    "I'm not overly shocked by that," he said.

    "I think every big game that I've played in when Wayne's been the opposition coach, something's found it's way into the media."

    Kangaroos lock Josh McGuire (ankle) has been cleared to play but England have been rocked by the withdrawal of skipper Sean O'Loughlin (quad) with Sam Burgess taking over the captaincy.

    Meninga said he was not sure whether fullback Billy Slater would be playing his final game for Australia on Saturday night.

    "I hope he keeps going," he said.

    Australia will be vying for their 11th World Cup triumph but first on home soil in 40 years.

    England will appear in their first Cup final since 1995.

    "We understand the history of the game - we both have reason to be successful tomorrow night," Meninga said.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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