Mal Meninga says it is “only the beginning” for his Australia side after they won their third successive World Cup title with a 30-10 victory over Samoa at Old Trafford.
Latrell Mitchell and captain James Tedesco both scored two tries each for the Kangaroos as they maintained their stranglehold on the Paul Barriere Trophy.
Australia have now won the competition 12 times and their latest triumph comes despite having not played an international fixture for almost three years prior to the tournament.
“If you go back to the 1970s, we’ve got a 90% winning record. It’s been a dominant time for an Australia team and I think we accept that really well as a group,” said Meninga, who has won multiple World Cups as a player and coach.
“The expectation is that we win tournaments, so it’s not a burden to us. We carry that with great humility and respect and we understand that. Our most ardent supporters don’t want us to win, but we accept that and we get on with business.
“All these guys are going to be together for the next three, four, five, six years. It is only the beginning of this team, I can assure you.”
Holding a commanding 14-0 lead, Australia suffered a setback six minutes into the second half, as Angus Crichton’s sin-binning gave Samoa a numerical advantage and appeared to offer a route back into the contest.
Meninga pointed to Australia’s reaction – extending their lead courtesy of Cameron Murray’s try during that period – as evidence of the superiority of his side.
“We handled it really well and it was our best 10 minutes in the game,” Meninga added.
“Defensively, we were outstanding and kept turning up for each other. That is the nature of this team. It is about defence. We scrambled really well when Samoa threw everything at us.”
Man of the match Tedesco, who has twice been NRL player of the year in Australia, suggested the Kangaroos’ latest triumph represents the pinnacle of his career.
“It is probably at the top [of my achievements] to be captain of the country at a World Cup,” he said after Australia’s victory in front of a 67,502 crowd overwhelmingly behind Samoa.
“It is pretty surreal winning the World Cup final at Old Trafford. Not many people can say or do that. It has been a special period over here for six or seven weeks with a special group of blokes.
“I was just happy we could win. I wanted to lead us to a World Cup victory; that was the goal at the start when we came into it.
“We soaked it [the partisan atmosphere] all in. We didn’t have many supporters out there but that’s all part of the experience.”