Newcastle Rugby League: Western Suburbs utility James Elias named in Lebanon squad for World Cup

NOD: Western Suburbs second-rower James Elias has been selected in the Lebanon squad for the rugby league World Cup, which starts in Australia this month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
NOD: Western Suburbs second-rower James Elias has been selected in the Lebanon squad for the rugby league World Cup, which starts in Australia this month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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Lebanon coach Brad Fittler has selected Port Stephens-based Western Suburbs second-rower James Elias to play at the World Cup.

The Corlette 23-year-old was overnight Thursday officially announced in the 24-man Cedars squad, which will be captained by Robbie Farrah (South Sydney).

It comes less than a month after Newcastle Rugby League minor premiers Wests were beaten 24-6 by Macquarie in the first grade grand final at McDonald Jones Stadium. 

Elias, who helped Lebanon qualify for the international tournament in South Africa in 2015, joins NRL players such as Mitchell Moses (Parramatta), Tim Mannah (Parramatta) and Michael Lichaa (Canterbury) while NSW Waratahs rugby union player Reece Robinson will make a comeback to rugby league.

Lebanon open their tournament against France in Canberra on October 29 before meeting heavyweights England (November 4) and hosts Australia (November 11) at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.

Fittler said it was a difficult task making the last call on players, which included former Newcastle Knights reserve grader Elias.

“It was tough selecting a final squad for the rugby league World Cup,” Fittler said.

“I think one of the hardest but most gratifying things is watching how disappointed some players were for not making it.

“If the love of this game is any guide to how we will play, then we will be very competitive in this tournament.

"These players have a great passion for the game of rugby league and it’s a quality squad that we have assembled.

“Most the team are either playing first grade, NSW Cup or Ron Massey Cup, so they have a good level of fitness and that’s going to be important that they are able to last and concentrate for the whole tournament.

“Looking at the squad, we have two front rowers [Tim Mannah and Alex Twal] who are regular NRL players so that will be a huge benefit for us.

“We just have to get it right in these tough pool matches, we won’t get any second chances and that has been the message the team.

“The fact is that only half a dozen of our squad are full-time professionals, so we need to make every opportunity count.”

LEBANON SQUAD:

Robbie Farah (Captain – South Sydney)

Mitchell Moses (Vice Captain – Parramatta Eels)

Danny Barakat (Wentworthville)

Jamie Clark (Auburn Warriors)

Adam Doueihi (South Sydney)

James Elias (West Newcastle)

Ahmad Ellaz (Auburn Warriors)

Nick Kassis (Blacktown Workers)

Andrew Kazzi (Wests Tigers)

Anthony Layoun (Parramatta Eels)

Michael Lichaa (Bulldogs)

Mitchell Mamary (Wentworthville)

Bilal Maarbani (Manly Sea Eagles)

Abbas Miski (North Sydney)

Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels)

Ray Moujalli (Bulldogs)

Reece Robinson (unattached)

Travis Robinson (Newtown)

Chris Saab (Blacktown Workers)

Raymond Sabat (Lycans FC)

Jaleel Seve-Derbas (Wests Tigers)

Elias Sukkar (Wentworthville)

Alex Twal (Wests Tigers)

Jason Wehbe (unattached)