Lebanon captain Robbie Farah believes rookie South Sydney team-mate Adam Doueihi will benefit like he did from playing for the Cedars before making his NRL debut.
Farah, who will lead Lebanon in Saturday night’s Rugby League World Cup match against England a Sydney Football Stadium, made his first appearance for the Cedars in 2002 as an 18-year-old and has since gone on to play more than 250 NRL matches as well as 16 State of Origins for NSW.
Doueihi, who is the nephew of Wallabies coach Michael Chieka, hopes to follow a similar path after an impressive performance for Lebanon in last Sunday’s historic 29-18 World Cup defeat of France in Canberra.
“He’s got a lot of learning to do, he’s still a young kid – but he’s got all the talent in the world,” Farah said of Doueihi, who played Under 20s for the Rabbitohs this season.
“His potential is limitless and potential’s one thing, obviously, but he’s got the work ethic to hopefully turn that into a really good talent.”
The 19-year-old South Sydney playmaker was called into the Cedars side just moments before kick-off after experienced second-rower Chris Saab suffered a concussion in the warm-up and he made a convincing debut scoring a crucial second-half try.
Farah believes the talented youngster could gain a benefit much similar to his own after stepping up to play international rugby league before making a professional senior-club debut.
“I think it’s going to be a massive benefit,” Farah said. “I know at Souths they were kind of contemplating whether he should play [for Lebanon] or whether it was important for him to be at preseason on November 1.
“But I’m of the opinion that there’s no experience like playing full Internationals with grown men.
“I know it did wonders for me as an 18-year-old when I played for Lebanon and hopefully it will have the same impact on him.”
Lebanon’s historic triumph in Canberra was one of the most rousing scenes of the opening week of RLWC2017, with the fans who had journeyed from Sydney singing and dancing outside the Stadium, and they will be hoping to carry the momentum into Saturday night’s match against England.
Doueihi will start in the centres outside the Cedars star halves combination of Farah and Parramatta playmaker Mitchell Moses, who was the hero of Lebanon’s win over France after kicking a field goal to break an 18-18 deadlock and then scoring a brilliant individual try,
Saab has again been ruled out following last week’s concussion, while Cedars coach Brad Fittler will hand four players their first start of the tournament - Daniel Abou-Sleiman, Bilal Maarbani, Ray Moujalli and Jamie Clark.
With Farrah’s South Sydney team-mate Sam Burgess unavailable for England after damaging knee ligaments in last Friday night’s 18-4 loss Australia, Wayne Bennett has promoted Warrington backrower Ben Currie for his first Test starting appearance.
St Helens forward Alex Walmsley was named on the bench after being a late scratching against the Kangaroos.
Bennett said his squad were upbeat after their gritty performance in Melbourne and consistency in personnel across their positions should mean an improved display.
Under the coaching of Bennett, England are a team more than capable of winning RLWC2017, but they shouldn’t underestimate this Lebanon side who will be full of confidence from their first-ever World Cup win.
The history continues this week as the two countries have never played against each other.
The only time the Cedars have faced a Tier-One nation they were thrashed 64-0 by New Zealand.
That was the 2000 World Cup. But this is now, and Lebanon just beat France – the sixth best team in the world.