Man behind controversial Australian squad numbers gives inside story about how they came to be

The Rugby League World Cup is coming to an end as Australia and Samoa gear up towards the final at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Many weird and wonderful stories have underpinned the tournament from start to finish including one pertaining to the strange squad numbers selected by Australia.

Instead of picking a favoured 17, the Australians gave the number one shirt to the captain James Tedesco and the rest of the numbers were determined by longevity in a green and gold shirt before switching to alphabetical order for the debutants.

It’s fair to say it caused a little bit of a backlash and now the man behind the decision Australia assistant coach Michael Hagan has revealed the story behind the decision:

Speaking on the BBC 5 Live Rugby League World Cup Podcast, he said:

“Well I guess because Mal is a traditional rugby person and because they changed the rules saying you had to have a particular number for the tour it didn’t sit comfortable with Mal about having to name his best 17 because he knew that would change over the weeks.

“So, there was a round table about how we get out of this, so I said ‘maybe we should do it on most number of tests’ next minute that’s what they adopted and I ended up copping it.

“We know where they’re playing, so we’re alright.

“Mal may have had a fair idea on who the best 17 might have been but he wasn’t settled on that until the last couple of weeks.”

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