Manchester: Kangaroos players have echoed their coach in scoffing at suggestions the Samoans are more passionate about playing for their country.
Mal Meninga bristled at the idea this week ahead of the World Cup final between the nations at Old Trafford on Sunday AEDT, before Ben Hunt and Pat Carrigan followed suit on Friday.
“It’s pretty easy, when you ask any kid what they want to do in any sport if you’re an Aussie and what do they say? You want to play for your country,” Carrigan said.
Watch every match of the Rugby League World Cup LIVE & Exclusive to Fox Sports, on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Cleary improvement “A scary proposition! | 00:49
“That was definitely a thing that I wanted to do and I know all these boys wanted to do and yeah it probably does get undersold.
“But I think part of it comes with a lot of these boys like being Australian and (also) having their Pacific Islander heritage (but) everyone expects you to play for Australia.
“Now they went out on the ledge and played for their Pacific Islands nations and the Samoan boys, they’ve got themselves to the World Cup final which I think is pretty cool to be honest.
“They’re definitely passionate and we’re definitely passionate.
MORE WORLD CUP NEWS
LOCKED IN: Meninga names Kangaroos side to face red-hot Samoa in WC final
HALVES PRESSURE GAUGE: Reynolds’ $2.4m reality; Manly wish granted
HARRIS-TAVITA: Samoa star opens up on shock call to walk away from the NRL
‘NO NEED TO DIVIDE IT’: Kangaroos star responds to shock Indigenous WC push
“As soon as the whistle blows it becomes pretty clear that there are 17 blokes from each team willing to do anything to get a job done. And if you measure passion on that, then it becomes pretty obvious.”
Hunt was just as emphatic, declaring no one is given a Test jersey without bleeding green and gold.
“You look at all those teams like New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, and the passion they have with the haka they do before the games and how worked up they get, but I believe that we’re just as passionate as any team,” Hunt said.
“To play for your country. It’s something that we all dream of, and to us it’s the pinnacle of the game to play for Australia and we don’t take that for granted.
Crichton: No need to further divide us | 01:02
“Personally, it’s something I’m really passionate about when I go out on Saturday and it’s something that I have been passionate about every time I’ve got the chance.
“You can’t get to this level or make it to a World Cup without being committed and passionate about what you’re doing and about the team and the colours you’re wearing.”
Meninga doubled down on his stance at the World Cup final launch in Manchester on Friday.
“I think rugby league is passion,” he said.
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!
“The Samoan team is a really good example of that, playing for their ancestral nation – I’m for that.
“We need the international game to thrive and they’re passionate about it, (but) so are the Aussies.
“Our guys put their hands up to play for Australia. We are no less passionate than any other nation when we pull on that green and gold jersey.
“The burden we carry is the expectation, but we still play with the passion and the commitment that is conducive to being an Australian.”