I SAT back and listened to a lot of people - mainly rugby union fans - hammer the Rugby League World Cup in the lead-up to Sunday morning’s opening clash between heavyweights Australia and hosts England.
The main argument is how it can’t be a World Cup when, realistically, it can only be won by three of the 14 competing nations.
That’s probably fair enough.
But anyone thinking the William Webb Ellis Cup will be won in 2015 by any side other than the All Blacks is taking in the serenity underneath power lines at Bonnie Doon with Darryl Kerrigan.
Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’.
That, though, is an argument for another time.
My gripe with the Rugby League World Cup is now, after Australia won its first game 28-20 against the Poms, the Kangaroos may not play defending champions New Zealand in this year’s event.
The two best teams in the one game everyone wants to see, a match that’ll be a replay of the infamous 2008 World Cup final Billy Slater is probably still having nightmares about, may never eventuate.
Should the stars align as expected, England will play New Zealand in one semi-final.
On the other side of the draw, it’s a given Australia will play a nufty nation in the final four, one that’ll view qualifying for the semi-finals as a massive achievement, proving little more than cannon fodder for the tournament’s biggest guns on their way to the big show.
But against England, New Zealand have no such assurance.
How did this happen?
Sure, the Australian and England game had plenty of hype around it, with the Burgess brothers - Sam, Tom and George - linking with some of the best Super League players running around in an attempt to topple the Kangaroos, but the only game anyone interested in rugby league wants to see is that of the trans-Tasman variety.
On form, class and history, Australia should play New Zealand in the final.
But why have organisers left it to chance?
The Kangaroos and Kiwis should have provided a blockbusting opener for the tournament.
To avoid this sort of embarrassment altogether, the big three nations - England, Australia and New Zealand - should have been placed in the one pool, with all three then progressing to the quarter final stage.
They’d all play each other once, and any future meetings in semi-finals and finals is an added bonus.
At least then we wouldn’t be faced with this farcical possibility of the two best sides in the small rugby league world not playing each other at all.