Rugby League World Cup preview: Lebanon

Can the Cedars cause a few headaches at the World Cup, especially with the legendary Brad Fittler at the helm?


Squad

Robbie Farah (South Sydney), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Danny Barakat (Wentworthville), Jamie Clark (Auburn Warriors), Adam Doueihi (South Sydney), James Elias (West Newcastle), Ahmad Ellaz (Auburn Warriors), Nick Kassis (Blacktown Workers), Andrew Kazzi (Wests Tigers), Anthony Layoun (Parramatta Eels), Michael Lichaa (Bulldogs), Mitchell Mamary (Wentworthville), Bilal Maarbani (Manly Sea Eagles), Abbas Miski (North Sydney), Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels), Ray Moujalli (Bulldogs), Reece Robinson (unattached), Travis Robinson (Newtown), Chris Saab (Blacktown Workers), Raymond Sabat (Lycans FC), Jaleel Seve-Derbas (Wests Tigers), Elias Sukkar (Wentworthville), Alex Twal (Wests Tigers), Jason Wehbe (unattached).

Coach: Brad Fittler 

Key Players

Robbie Farah

Although he is essentially in the twilight of his career, Farah has proven his importance to any side throughout his career. He can also act as another playmaker and because of this, has been known as a very creative player. Farah possesses an abundance of experience at representative level, as he represented City and New South Wales at Origin Level, as well as the Prime Minister’s XIII and Australia at national level. In addition, he has been captain at both club and representative level, which emphasizes his leadership qualities. A definite asset to the Lebanese team, having been assigned the captaincy.

Mitchell Moses

A player whose attitude had come into question following his mid-season defection to the Eels from the Tigers, Moses had proven these doubters wrong in the best possible way. Although the Eels were eliminated by the Cowboys in the semi-finals, Moses had a fine season and proved to be one of their most valuable players. This tournament is a golden opportunity for him to consolidate on his form for the Eels and gain experience as a vice captain.

Michael Lichaa

A noted dynamic runner during his junior days at the Sharks, Lichaa struggled during most of his three seasons at the Bulldogs. However, after Des Hasler was sacked as Bulldogs coach, Lichaa let loose in the final three games of the 2017 season, in which he showed Bulldogs fans why he was signed as Michael Ennis’s replacement. This tournament is the perfect opportunity for Lichaa to demonstrate to the rugby league community his dynamic skills at hooker and to show new Bulldogs coach Dean Pay what he is made of.

Fixtures

France vs Lebanon, Sunday 29 October, 16:00 AEDT, Canberra Stadium.

England vs Lebanon, Saturday 4 November, 20:00 AEDT, Sydney Football Stadium.

Australia vs Lebanon, Saturday 11 November, 20:00 AEDT, Sydney Football Stadium.

Strengths

The Lebanese will have Roosters legend Brad Fittler at the helm as he attempts to orchestrate a series of upsets by the Cedars. He can be regarded as a strength, because of his abundance of knowledge about the NRL, as well as the players who are in the NRL, especially from the Australian team.

There are a few players such as Farah, Moses, Lichaa, Tim Mannah and Reece Robinson who possess an abundance of NRL experience. Some of these players play in vital positions such as half-back and hooker too. As such, the Lebanese should stand them in good stead.

Weaknesses

Although there is some  experience in the Lebanese team, there are at least 10 players who either do not currently play in the NRL or have no NRL experience altogether. This means that against teams such as Australia and England, who possess players with a wealth of NRL experience, the Lebanese may not be able to stay with them for long periods during the match. 

Moreover, with the exception of Mannah, the quality of the Lebanese forward pack is rather modest, compared to nations such as Australia, New Zealand, and England. Some games are won in the forwards and this is one weakness which could be ruthlessly exploited by the more powerful teams.

Prediction

The Cedars are unlikely to finish in the top two of their group, especially with the likes of Australia and England to contend with. In their matches, they are likely to have an abundance of support from the Lebanese who call Australia home. However, this is unlikely to be sufficient in getting them over the line in the big games.

They should offer some resistance to their opponents, especially with Fittler’s knowledge of the game. They are likely to battle it out with France for third place, which is the final qualifying spot for the quarter-final stage. However, if they are successful in progressing to the knock-out stage, they are unlikely to proceed beyond the quarter-finals.

How far do you think Lebanon will get in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup? Let us know in the comments below.

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Rob Sebastian

My name is Rob Sebastian. I absolutely love my sports, especially tennis and all forms of football. I love playing them as well, as I play tennis. I am a masters student, as well as a public servant and owner of a cleaning business.

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