Well, that’s a wrap for the Rugby League World Cup – and what a fantastic occasion it was at Old Trafford on Saturday.

However, I can’t help but keep wondering what could have been if England had made it there!

Samoa put up a great fight in front of 67,500 fans, but it was the pre-tournament favourites Australia that finally conquered.

The Kangaroos inevitably made it a record 12th World Cup win. Even with the vast majority of the stadium behind the South Sea islanders, and Aussie forward Angus Crichton spending ten minutes in the sin-bin for a forearm smash on the head of Samoan star Chanel Harris-Tavita, they always looked destined to lift the trophy.

Despite neither England team – men or women – making the final, there was a great atmosphere inside the Theatre of Dreams. The platform for this was laid prior to kick-off with the Samoan Siva Tau (haka), where they certainly got into the faces of their opponents… and you can’t question their efforts throughout the game either.

However, the superior talents of Tedesco, Michell and co. were there for all to see as the Aussies went into the half-time break 20-0 up – and quite frankly they never looked back.

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Speaking of half-time, it was great to see one of my favourite childhood artists, Heather Small of M People, performing ‘Search For A Hero’ as my good friend Kevin Sinfield entered through the tunnel to a rapturous applause following his 7-in-7 Ultra Marathon challenge for former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease community.

Kev and his team have raised over £2m in this latest effort to support our good mate Rob. Well done to all involved.

Congratulations also to the Jillaroos of Australia who demolished the Kiwi Ferns in the final to claim the Women’s World Cup.

However, I think the stars of the whole RLWC2021 were the England Wheelchair team who were sensational from start to finish. They finally beat current champions France in a thrilling final, giving England at least one trophy to celebrate.

The wheelchair competition really did capture the public imagination and. with all games screened live over the BBC channels, has no doubt gained the sport thousands of new fans.

With sell-out crowds and electric atmospheres, the wheelchair competition really has hit another level. The players’ lack of self-preservation and amazing skill and speed was a real spectacle.

Now, before I sign off for 2022, I must have an early look ahead at the 2023 Betfred Super League season.

It will be interesting to see how my two former clubs go on – Saints under new boss and my good mate Paul Wellens, who takes over from Kristian Woolf, and under-pressure Darryl Powell, who will be looking to turn around a dreadful first season at the Wolves and finally challenge for silverware.

Unsurprisingly, title sponsors Betfred make Saints 9/4 favourites to win their fifth title in a row – and knowing Wello and this squad as I do, that wouldn’t be a surprise.

Wigan are 10/3, Warrington 8/1 and Salford 25/1 to lift the trophy at Old Trafford next year – while the other local club and Betfred Super League new boys Leigh Leopards are the 33/1 outsiders.

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