Rugby League World Cup: Australia's Nathan Cleary hoping to reach 'dream' final at Manchester United's Old Trafford
Australia’s Nathan Cleary says reaching the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford would have an added extra meaning to him.
The Penrith Panthers halfback is a life-long Manchester United fan, and has already been to see Erik ten Hag’s side in action since arriving in England.
Australia overcame Lebanon with a 48-4 victory at the John Smith’s Stadium last week to book their place in the semi-finals, where they will take on New Zealand at Elland Road on Friday evening (K.O. 7.30pm).
Cleary said: “We are pleased to make it, the aim is to go out and get the wins to keep progressing throughout the tournament.
“It was a scrappy and poor game against Lebanon, with a few too many errors, but at the end of the day you’re out there to win.
“It sort of reminded me of being in Penrith in the winter with the cold.
“I’m really enjoying my time over here, it’s my first time in England, so I’m just adapting.
“We’re staying in Manchester so it’s been cool to check all that out
“I went to Old Trafford. I’ve been a (Manchester) United fan since I was a little kid, so it was pretty good to tick that off my bucket list.
“Being able to play there in the final would be a dream, but we’ve got a tough game coming up and we’ll have to be at our best to get there.
“It’d be a little gift at the end of the tunnel but you’ve got to remain process driven and let the results take care of themselves.
“For the semi-final, Elland Road looks like a pretty cool stadium. I’ve heard some cool stories about the Leeds fans in football, so it’s going to be pretty special.
“I’m trying to focus on playing well in this tournament, but I’m going to stay over here for a few weeks after so I’ll get a lot of sightseeing in then.”
The second semi-final of the weekend sees England take on Samoa at the Emirates on Saturday (K.O. 2.30pm).
The two teams previously met in the opening game of the tournament at St James’ Park, with Shaun Wane’s side coming away with a 60-6 victory.