League: Prizemoney an added incentive

By Michael Brown

Taking home the World Cup is the ultimate and there's also a bonus for the winners

Simon Mannering says winning the cup is what drives his team. Photo / Getty Images
Simon Mannering says winning the cup is what drives his team. Photo / Getty Images

There's more than just the trophy and being able to call yourself world champions at stake over the next week - there's also some healthy prizemoney on offer.

A new collective agreement was signed this year which not only bumped up match payments for internationals but also prizemoney for major tournaments like the World Cup and Four Nations.

Each player stands to earn A$50,000 ($56,000) for winning the World Cup, with A$40,000 for second and A$30,000 for third.

"If that's your main motivation, you're not thinking about the right things," Kiwis captain Simon Mannering said. "The money is nice and all, but if you could have $50,000 or winning the World Cup - one or the other - I know what all the other boys would want and it wouldn't be the $50,000."

It doesn't mean Mannering has visualised himself holding the trophy aloft. It's never really been his way.

"I don't think that's really going to help our cause," he said.

Mannering is a lot more pragmatic than that. At times he comes across as a reluctant leader, but it's a job he enjoys and is evolving into.

It came as a surprise when coach Stephen Kearney asked him in April to take over from Benji Marshall, who he felt needed to concentrate on his game to help him get to the level where he was the world's best player in 2010. It was good timing because Marshall switched to rugby and wouldn't have made the cup squad even if available.

Mannering missed out on captaining the side for the Anzac test because of injury - he was in camp but was a late scratching - meaning he had to wait until the World Cup warmup against the Cook Islands.

"Captaining the Kiwis wasn't on my radar," he said. "I would have just loved to have been part of this campaign. Captaincy is just a bonus.

"It changed things a little. It adds a few little extra things but not too much. I'm glad it didn't because I have always enjoyed coming into Kiwis camp and I didn't want that to change. It's actually got better with the role. I really enjoy it.

"You have a little more emphasis on guys around you and how they are playing and enjoying themselves and you get a little satisfaction out of that."

It helps when you're winning and the Kiwis have eased through the tournament so far.

They will come up against their first major challenge when they take on England at Wembley tomorrow morning (NZT).

New Zealand will be without winger Manu Vatuvei (groin strain) and there's uncertainty around whether Frank Pritchard (hamstring) will play with Alex Glenn on standby.

England coach Steve McNamara has made two key changes to his 19-man squad, with NZ-born five-eighth Rangi Chase replaced by Melbourne's Gareth Widdop and Wigan hooker Michael McIlorum giving way to second-rower Carl Ablett. It means James Roby is likely to start at hooker, with Rob Burrow providing spark off the bench.

"We will have to be at our best to win, but we'll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team on one of the biggest stages in world sport," said McNamara.

NZ v England

Last five

2011: England 28 New Zealand 6, Hull (Four Nations)

2010: New Zealand 24 England 10, Wellington (Four Nations)

2009: England 20 New Zealand 12, Huddersfield (Four Nations)

2008: New Zealand 32 England 22, Brisbane (World Cup semifinal)

2008: New Zealand 36 England 24, Newcastle (World Cup)


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