Last-chance saloon in final for Kangaroo veterans
Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Brent Tate and Corey Parker have won grand finals, State of Origins and Four Nations tournaments but unless the Kangaroos beat New Zealand on Sunday morning they will retire without ever winning a World Cup.
With the Kiwis winning five years ago and no tournament having been held between 2000 and 2008, none of the Kangaroos squad has won a World Cup and the six Queenslanders are expected to be too old to play again in 2017 as all are 30 years of age or older.
"That just shows the weight behind this match and what it will mean to us to win the final," Parker said.
"There would only be a handful of players in the squad who haven't won a comp here and a lot of guys have played Origin and won series's but no one has won a World Cup." NSW and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen is another who won't be around in the next World Cup as he is 32, while Greg Bird and Robbie Farah celebrate their 30th birthdays before the start of next season.
"They don't come around too often so obviously it is a motivating factor for all of us but certainly, individually, to win a World Cup is a big deal," Gallen said.
"I will pretty comfortably say that this is my last World Cup so it is really motivating for myself," Gallen said.
"People talk about 2008 but it was so long ago that we are not really thinking about that but these opportunities don't come around too often so it is certainly motivating for this team.
"To come over here and to not win it you would probably have to say it hasn't been a real successful tour and everyone here is really motivated to do that because we are over here away from our families for so long for no other reason but to win the World Cup." Cronk, who along with Smith and Slater has won three grand finals for Melbourne and been a member of the Maroons side that has dominated Origin for the past eight years, said winning a World Cup at Old Trafford was on his list of career goals.
"It is obviously something to achieve and I think the mentality of most of the guys in this team is that whether you have won Origins or premierships or whatever it is, you are always striving for a great achievement," Cronks said.
"You climb one mountain and you are looking for another one, and this is obviously something that this team hasn't done for a few years.
"New Zealand are the world champions so there is obviously some history there and we are playing at an iconic stadium in Old Trafford so it is pretty exciting. I have been to Old Trafford to watch a football match but I have never played there." Tate, who was injured in the semi-final of the 2008 World Cup and missed the final at Suncorp Stadium, expects that the decider will be his last appearance on British soil.
"There is plenty of drive in us, I can tell you," Tate said. "I was talking to [coach] Tim Sheens about this the other day; when you sit back at the end of your career and you look at what you achieved and if you don't win one it is something you will look back on with a fair amount of regret.
"I know I look back at 2008 with a fair bit of regret so it would be great, especially for us guys because we won't be playing in the next one, that is for sure." Parker, who was a member of Brisbane's 2006 premiership winning team, revealed that Blues coach and former Australian captain had implored the World Cup players in the Prime Ministers XIII who played Papua New Guinea two months ago to make the most of their opportunity.
"It still sticks in my mind when we were in PNG Laurie Daley said the one regret in his football career was that he hadn't been involved in a World Cup," Parker said.
"I have got to pinch myself that I'm over here and we're involved in a World Cup and now we have an opportunity to hold up that trophy so there will be 17 guys on the field on Saturday trying to win not only for ourselves and each other but the Australian nation."
Sydney Morning Herald