Radley backs England to tame 'freak' Suaalii

Victor Radley is looking forward to going up against 'freak' Joseph Suaalii when England take on Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals (Jan Kruger/Getty Images for RLWC)
Victor Radley is looking forward to going up against 'freak' Joseph Suaalii when England take on Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals (Jan Kruger/Getty Images for RLWC)

By James Toney

Victor Radley has hailed Samoa's superstar Joseph Suaalii as a 'freak' but insists England have what it takes to tame the beast.

Suaalii, just 19, is viewed by many as the likely player of his generation and Radley knows him well as a team-mate for NRL side Sydney Roosters.

The teenage full-back, who turned down playing for Mal Meninga's Australia, has been integral to Samoa's run to the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals and a showdown with England at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

His statistics underline his sledgehammer impact. In a tense quarter-final clash with Tonga in Warrington, he gained nearly 240 metres, notched five tackle-busts and made a break that set up the winning try.

"Joseph is a freak, he is a young freak, and he has played so well for us at the Roosters this year," said Radley.

"He has been good for them in this tournament, he has been their best player and he is going to run hard.

"We know what is coming and we are going to get in front of him and hit him hard. But he is a really good player, very tough and skilful.

"Everyone says once in a generation but he is and we are going to have to do a job on him. We have looked at him and we will take care of it.

"He's a really nice fella and I couldn't say a bad word about him. There's not much I can say about him, our coaching team have watched his games and seen what I see. We will have to do a good job on him."

Castleford Tigers coach Lee Radford is working with Samoa and admits he's been stunned by how Suaalii, who has played just one full NRL season, has already imposed himself on the team's experienced leadership group.

It's little surprise that many think it's only a matter of time before he challenges Australia captain and Roosters team-mate James Tedesco for the full-back slot for the Chooks.

He's been integral to the turnaround of Matt Parish's side, who lost the tournament opener 60-6 to England in Newcastle just four weeks ago.

England coach Shaun Wane knows this will be a different side to one England faced at St James' Park, a team that had barely stepped off the plane, had just two practice sessions together and not played a warm-up fixture.

"They'll definitely be a lot better this time around," added Radley, who picked up the player of the match prize in the that game, running the match from loose forward as the hosts flew out the traps and never looked back.

"We are only worried about ourselves. They are going to be stronger but we are going to be stronger as well. I'm just really excited to play.

"I watched their game with Tonga and they went hard against each other. It is going to take 17 hard Englishman to stop them and that is what we have got."

The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets