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Real or Not: Send off was enough for Adam Doueihi

Week one of the Rugby League World Cup has been played, with a couple of surprises, and plenty of talking points. We discuss three things that caught our eye as we head into to week two in the north of England.


Adam Doueihi hard done by

REAL: Players simply must respect the authority of the match officials; otherwise, we will have complete chaos in our game. Those running around with the whistles and flags are doing the best they can to insure that both teams adhere to the rules. We can't have players verbally abusing them when they disagree with a decision. These players set the standard for all levels and age groups below them.

Having said that, it is a very rare event to have a player sent from the field for saying the wrong thing to a match official. Lebanon's Adam Doueihi was becoming increasingly frustrated, mainly because his team's gutsy effort was coming unraveled, due to what he perceived was a less than even share of the referee's calls. It never helps your cause to abuse a referee, and in this case Doueihi paid the highest price, leaving his struggling side a man short for the final 20 minutes of the game.

At the tribunal it was argued that Doueihi didn't say the things that referee Grant Atkins said he did. It should never have come down to a battle over exactly what was said. Being sent off during such an important World Cup clash is easily punishment enough. If he had been sent to the sin bin and placed on report, then the severity of what was said could have been debated as the judiciary decided whether or not to knock him out of further games.

Lebanon might only play three games at the tournament, which means Doueihi, one of their best players, will be missing for almost half their campaign. To progress to the quarterfinals they need to first beat Ireland, without Doueihi, and then Jamaica. The clash with Ireland will still be a great game between two evenly matched and passionate teams, but losing Doueih is a huge price to pay for his poor self control.


Samoa will bounce back to pose a real threat

NOT REAL: It is dangerous to write off a team which is so blatantly full of natural talent, but it is hard to see how Samoa can recover from that opening defeat at the hands of England. You simply can't allow an opponent to score 10 tries against you in an International and expect to be taken seriously as a genuine contender.

Most alarmingly, the Samoan defence opened up with little, if any, real resistance, which generally points towards a massive issue within the playing group. It is the coach's job to instill in his players the desire and willingness to commit themselves fully to the team and the task ahead of them, and when they so clearly fail to do so, it is naturally the coach who takes the blame.

Samoa should win their next two pool games against Greece and France, and you would hope they would show a marked improvement in commitment and effort. They should move onto the quarterfinals, where they would likely face Tonga, in what could be the game of the tournament to that point. Tonga will have inspirational leader Jason Taumalolo back from suspension by then, and if Samoa turn up with anything less than their full resolve, the slightly less talented Tongans could well embarrass them.

If they manage to beat Tonga in that game, they would likely face England again in the semi-final. It would take a form reversal, the likes of which we have seldom seen in world sport for them to reverse that 60-6 result.


Daly Cherry-Evans can put his feet up

REAL: Barring injury, I think we have seen the last of Australia's Daly Cherry-Evans for this World Cup. Cherry-Evans was given first shot at the Kangaroos halfback role based largely on incumbency and on Queensland's Origin series victory. But, as became fairly clear during the Panthers run to back-to-back titles, Cleary is the NRL's premier playmaker.

They have two games against minnows Scotland and Italy in which to work on Cleary's combinations with hooker Harry Grant and five-eighth Cameron Munster, ahead of the finals. Cleary should use the game time to acclimatise his kicking game to the slick decks and short in-goal areas.

When the big games against tougher opponents roll around you want Cleary firing at his best and blending seamlessly with the talent assembled around him. Cherry-Evans is a great player and could still also be used in the No.14 role should anything happen to Ben Hunt, but, the time has come for him to make way for Cleary, who should hold the position for many years to come.