The Lebanese squad:
Darren Maroon (captain)
Mohammed Wally Abbas
|Group 2 news
A surprise inclusion in the Lincoln World Cup, the Cedars, as the Lebanon are known, are hoping to justify the faith placed in them by the Australian representatives on the International Board, who lobbied strongly for their appearance - despite there being no rugby league played in the Lebanon.
Whatever the pros and cons are of their introduction to international rugby, their progress will be followed closely by the 300,000 Lebanese and their offspring living in and around Sydney, Australia.
The Cedars, who boast seven Lebanese-born players in their squad, have approached the tournament in a most professional manner, playing warm-up games against local Sydney teams Souths and Manly reserves.
Many of their players are drawn from the Sydney Metropolitan Cup competition and the Jersey Flegg tournament. But in Hazem El Masri, the Canterbury Bulldogs player of the season, they have a player to rank with the world's finest.
Skipper Darren Maroon of the Sydney Bulls and Canterbury half-back Paul Khoury will have to shoulder most of the responsibility if they are to prove competitive in the group stages.
There game against Wales at Stradey Park, Llanelli on Thursday November 2 will prove crucial in their efforts to progress to the quarter finals. If they can match the Welsh fire and passion, they do have players with the ability to cause a shock, though a good showing in the group might well be their priority. A match against France is planned in the Lebanon next year.