Lebanon aim to ‘shock’ Tongans
Mitchell Moses swears the pressure is on Tonga but a ‘‘bashed up’’ Lebanon team would be out to ‘‘knock them off’’ in the Rugby League World Cup quarterfinal.
The Parramatta Eels standoff and skipper Robbie Farah hold the key to the Lebanon Cedars’ attack for Saturday’s game in Christchurch.
Lebanon and Tonga are both in the playoffs for the first time, but Moses insists the Mate Ma’a conquerors of the Kiwis last weekend - must be favourites.
‘‘I always knew they were going to go far in the competition,’’ he said yesterday.
‘‘They’ve got a good shot at it now, it’s our job to try and knock them off. We are in a good position. Really, they should win the game. All the pressure’s on them.’’
Moses said Tonga had ‘‘great quality from one to 17’’ and brimmed with NRL regulars.
‘‘We’ve got five NRL players in our team.
‘‘All the pressure’s on them,’’ he repeated. ‘‘We will just look to go out there and play some footy and try and shock them.’’
Moses was one of Lebanon’s walking wounded in their bruising 34-0 loss to Australia last week.
‘‘I’m pretty bashed up, we all are pretty battered and bruised, but we’ve got the right people in our game to get us right for the game.
‘‘We will see what team Freddy [coach Brad Fittler] can field.’’
Fittler has made three changes to his starting lineup with Travis Robinson replacing Danny Barakat on the wing, Nick Kassis replacing the injured Chris Saab in the second row and Alex Twal starting at prop with Ray Moujalli moving to the interchange bench.
Moses said the Lebanese were expecting ‘‘a bash and barge game’’ from Tonga and the key would be controlling their forwards.
‘‘Their starting forward pack [Sio Siua] Taukeiaho, [Andrew] Fifita and [Jason] Taumalolo are a massive part of their team.
‘‘They get their sets rolling and their halves can play off the back of that.
‘‘If we can minimise the metres they make, we will definitely be in the game.
‘‘We are all going to have to have the best games we’ve ever played.’’
Moses said his halves combination with South Sydney’s Farah, a former Australian and NSW State of Origin hooker, had been ‘‘going good’’, but he felt ‘‘last week we had a few hiccups in our attack’’ against Australia.
‘‘We will watch the video and look to fix that up. We can’t afford to go doing that against a quality side like Tonga.’’
The 23-year-old, who started his NRL career at the Wests Tigers club that was once captained by Farah, felt that Lebanon could ‘‘probably get that edge over them’’ in the halves if they can control the middle.
‘‘But we are just going to have to stop their forwards first.
‘‘Whatever the NRL boys in our side can feed off to the other boys, it’s going to be a massive help.’’