Cedars’ agony and ecstasy
LEBANON went from causing one of rugby league’s biggest upsets to having players banned in their final pool game and having competition points stripped.
Less than three hours after shocking England 16-13 in their pool game, the Cedars were stopped from using under-18 players in their final pool match. They subsequently lost to Wales, ending hopes of a fairytale semi-final spot.
It took the NRL until Lebanon’s third pool game to realise they had two under-18s in their squad — Cronulla’s Jordan Samrani and Cowboys-bound Jacob Kiraz.
The highly-fancied Kiraz played on Friday in Lebanon’s win against France but Samrani was stopped from taking on Wales during the team’s warm-up.
The NRL also scrambled late yesterday, asking for a third player’s driver’s licence to prove his age.
Lebanon were subsequently deducted two points from their 12-8 win against France on Friday night for fielding an ineligible player.
To further complicate, Kiraz played for Lebanon in the mid-year Test against Fiji but that match was played under Rugby League International Federation rules whereas the NRL run the Nines. No player under 18 can play in the NRL.