It is intended as a generic image for rugby league and rugby union stories.
*** DO NOT CHANGE THIS CROP *** It is intended as a generic image for rugby league and rugby union stories. David Nielsen

Fab four don’t let us down in finale

IT IS ironic that The Beatles, subjectively the greatest rock group of all time, was formed in Liverpool, less than an hour's drive from the Old Trafford Stadium where another Fab Four - Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater - yesterday made an indelible mark on rugby league history.

In one of the most impressive and comprehensive performances in recent rugby league history, this four-man spine of the Kangaroos was simply sensational as Australia pummelled a much-vaunted New Zealand to win its 10th World Cup from 13 tournaments. The control, confidence and coolness under pressure of the Aussie 'Fab Four' was indisputably the catalyst for the brilliant win.

And it is not coincidental that three of that quartet - Smith, Thurston and Slater - have been an integral part of Queensland's eight-year domination of State of Origin. These players are a rare breed and their phenomenal combination and understanding is of a quality many of us may not see again.

But as the Kangaroos demolished the shell-shocked Kiwis with five unanswered tries and seven from seven via the perfect boot of Thurston, each of the awesome foursome showed they could also be sinners, and able to err like normal humans.

Smith was guilty of a penalty for a high tackle; Cronk's second fifth-tackle kick was a shocker; Thurston dropped an inside pass from Jarryd Hayne which would have put him under the posts; and on impact with the turf Slater spilled a kick after initially flying high for a brilliant take.

But the real irony of this win, and the extraordinary contribution of the four main men, is that three days earlier none of them was considered good enough to be included in a world team announced by the Rugby League International Federation. Not only does that make a laughing stock of the team, it belittles the legitimacy of the body supposedly running the international game.

Prior to the final, much was made of New Zealand springing a major upset in the Centenary World Cup in Brisbane in 2008. Revenge was a word often used, but only five players from that beaten Kangaroos side played in the final in the early hours of yesterday morning and - coincidentally - three of those were Smith, Slater and Thurston.

Sure they had a point to prove, and being omitted from the team of the year would also have irked them, but their performance in the final was simply a reminder to every rugby league fan that cream generally rises to the top, especially when the chips are down.

And, just as the Beatles requested in their 1969 hits 'Come Together' and 'Don't Let Me Down', the call from skipper Smith for one last effort in 2013 was ultimately heeded by his exceptional teammates.

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