Newcastle Rugby League: Western Suburbs utility James Elias pushes for World Cup start with Lebanon

CEDARS: World Cup-bound James Elias scoring a try for Western Suburbs last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
CEDARS: World Cup-bound James Elias scoring a try for Western Suburbs last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Three weeks ago James Elias was playing for Western Suburbs in the Newcastle Rugby League grand final.

Later this month the 23-year-old from Corlette will take to the sport’s biggest international stage.

Elias was on Thursday officially announced in Lebanon’s 24-man World Cup squad, coached by Brad Fittler and captained by Robbie Farrah, and will on Saturday play a trial game to press his case for selection in Tests against France, England and Australia.  

The Cedars tackle non-tournament playing Niue at Leichhardt Oval ahead of their October 29 opener in Canberra.

“You can brush the cobwebs off, maybe get a chance to impress a bit and hopefully work your way into the side,” Elias said.

Elias, who played most of the year in Wests’ second-row, said he expected to line up in the centres for Lebanon but would find out more detail during the team’s final training run on Friday night.

“Based on training so far that’s where I’ll probably be,” Elias said.

“I played a few games at centre for Wests this year and I’m normally on the edge somewhere so it doesn’t really make too much difference for me. I’m just looking forward to it all.”

Elias said recent three-hour commutes from Port Stephens to Concord three times a week were made worthwhile when hearing his name read out alongside NRL players such as Farrah, Mitchell Moses and Tim Mannah.

“I’m very honoured and proud,” he said.

The Nelson Bay junior said he would put aside the disappointment of the Rosellas’ 24-6 loss to Macquarie in the 2017 decider at McDonald Jones Stadium and refocus on the job at hand.

“It would have been better to end on a better note with Wests but this is obviously totally different,” Elias said.

“It means a lot playing for my grandparents’ heritage.”

His maternal grandmother lives in Lakemba.

  • Outgoing Lakes captain, two-time NSW Country player of the year and former Newcastle Knights hooker Chris Adams was on Friday officially announced as Toukley Hawks coach for 2018.