Stevo holds up Mick Sullivan as GB celebrate
GO AND WIN
LIKE WE DID Rugby League World Cup winner Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson has thrown down the gauntlet to his fellow countrymen to emulate the team of ‘72 Words by Matt Morris
here can be few greater thrills in Rugby League than scoring the tournament clinching try in a Rugby League World Cup Final. For an Englishman it’s an even rarer thrill and one shared by only three players; Warrington legend Gerry Helme, Wigan and Saints flyer Mick Sullivan and Dewsbury hooker and current Sky Sports pundit Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson. ‘Stevo’ joined that elite triumvirate of English players way back in 1972, the last time a Great Britain team had laid claim to be world champions. “I really do feel that if we play to our capabilities we can win this tournament,” Stevo said as he looked forward to RLWC2013. “I would have to say that the New Zealanders and the Aussies have perhaps got a little bit more speed and finesse in the three-quarter line, but they said that in 1972. “Bobby Fulton and Graeme Langlands, these guys were some of the all-time greats, they were world class. This is an opportunity for our guys to say I want to be classified as that, not just as a great player in my country, but world class.”
10 RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP 2013
It was in the Rugby League backwater of Lyon that Stephenson and his Great Britain team-mates achieved Rugby League immortality. A 10-10 draw with a star-studded Australia team enough for Clive Sullivan’s side to remain unbeaten and clinch the trophy. “They had some great players, Bob O’Riley, John O’Neill, Artie Beetson, they had a good pack, but we thought we were pretty solid as well,” Stevo said as he looked back to a rain-soaked November afternoon in France. “Clawson, Jeanes, Lowe, Lockwood and Georgie Nicholls, it wasn’t a bad line-up, so we were confident, confident that given the
opportunity we would score a try. We only had two real chances and we took them. Clive ran 75 metres and I ran about 10. “I can assure you, it was a great moment.” Whilst the decision to stage the ’72 final in Lyon saw less than 5,000 fans witness Great Britain’s triumph, the location did have it’s advantages when it came to celebrating the win. “Lets just say that the celebration was a little bit more exotic than what we were used to. Way back in the 60s and 70s when I was playing we couldn’t afford champagne, but in France I took a liking to champagne and to be quite truthful, I have done ever since.“
XXXX XXXXXXX Australia started as the favourites to retain the Rugby League World Cup trophy in 1972. New Zealand had beaten all three of the other nations in 1971 and France were expected to be tough opponents on their home soil. However it was Great Britain who surpassed expectations and ran out worthy winners.