The Rugby League World Cup, as you’d expect, is home to the best rugby league players on the planet but in the eyes of Jon Wilkin the tournament is playing host to “the best rugby league player of our generation” as he develops.
The player in question is a man who England will have to watch very carefully in Saturday’s semi-final: Samoa fullback Joseph Suaali’i.
On the BBC 5 Live Rugby League World Cup Podcast, Wilkin talked up the Samoan: “I think we are seeing the best rugby league player of our generation develop in this tournament in Joseph Suaali’i.
“I genuinely think he’s going to be amazing, he’s 19 years old and he’s doing some incredible things against Tonga, the most ferocious match. He made 240 metres, he made a break that set up the winning try and I was just sat back, he’s six-foot-five and I was like ‘I have a man crush on this guy’ he’s unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, Castleford Tigers Head Coach and assistant to Samoa boss Matt Parish backed up Wilkin’s claims with first hand experience of the Sydney Roosters youngster: “What you see on the field, he delivers off it as well. For a 19-year-old kid to have his own meetings in team sessions is phenomenal and what we’ve seen in the World Cup from Game one to Game Four is the niches of playing fullback, he’s developed them so quickly.
“I’m going to back up what Jon has just said, I think you’re going to see a very special player over the next five, six, seven or eight years.”
England will have to be on top of their game to nullify the threat he has on Saturday.