Harry Grant's World Cup statement in big win for Kangaroos: 'Unreal'

Seen here, Harry Grant debuting for Australia against Fiji at the Rugby League World Cup.
Harry Grant starred on debut for Australia after coming off the bench to help the Kangaroos wrap up a big win over Fiji. Pic: AAP

Harry Grant has stolen the show for the Kangaroos at the Rugby League World Cup after coming off the bench to help inspire Australia to a commanding win over Fiji in their opening match.

The Kangaroos ended their three-year hiatus with a solid if unspectacular 42-8 victory over Fiji to kick off their World Cup campaign in winning fashion.

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In front of more than 13-thousand fans at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, the defending champions ran out big winners but the scoreline didn't reflect how rusty they were for the opening 20 minutes on Saturday in Leeds (Sunday AEDT).

The Aussies only led 18-4 at halftime but it was the introduction of Test debutant Grant that helped the Kangaroos run riot in the second forty.

As he had done for Queensland in State of Origin, Grant had to settle for a spot on the bench with Ben Hunt named as starting hooker.

However, the 24-year-old made his introduction count by setting up one try, kicking a 40/20, and also getting on the scoresheet himself with a dream four-pointer on debut.

"Harry Grant off the bench, excellent. Unbelievable off the bench," Corey Parker said on Fox League's post-game show.

"The way he was able to change the momentum of the game, it will be interesting to see if he starts on the bench in the next game or whether he starts at the moment."

Kangaroos five-eighth Cam Munster was named man-of-the-match for his all-round display for the tournament favourites, but league great Greg Alexander agreed that it was Grant's introduction that got things ticking for the Aussies.

Pictured centre, Australia's Harry Grant breaks clear during a tackle against Fiji in their opening game at the Rugby League World Cup.
Australia's Harry Grant (centre) breaks clear during a tackle against Fiji in their opening game at the Rugby League World Cup. Pic: Getty (Richard Sellers - PA Images via Getty Images)

"Munster did some great things in that second-half, very clever, but I'm with Corey, I thought Harry Grant was the difference," Alexander said.

"You could notice the difference to our service immediately when he came on and I know it's the Queensland model of Ben Hunt starting and Grant off the bench, I don't know if they stick with that. Ben Hunt's execution was a little off today."

Fans were also quick to praise the impact of Grant on social media, with many calling it one of the best Test debuts in memory.

While Munster also shone for the Aussies, Daly Cherry-Evans - who is battling with Nathan Cleary for the halfback role - was dependable if not extraordinary as his halves partner.

Reuben Cotter sidelined with concussion

One concern for Meninga as his side head to Coventry to face Scotland next week will be a concussion for debutant Reuben Cotter.

The North Queensland forward banged heads with Fijian prop Tui Kamikamica in the second half and didn't return after failing his HIA.

Meninga is expected to rotate the rest of his squad but Cotter will be forced to sit out for the next 11 days in line with the World Cup's concussion protocols.

Second-rower Jeremiah Nanai could face suspension for a spear tackle on Fiji halfback Brandon Wakeham late in the game.

Canterbury playmaker Wakeham was part of a rag-tag side Fijian side who threw everything at Australia and got their reward when Canberra centre Semi Valemei opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Wakeham failed to make the conversion but the Bati were winning the ruck and Australia were made to fight for every inch.

When they did get up the other end Australia lacked patience and had to work for Nanai to crack the Fiji line with a quarter of an hour gone.

It took the daring of Latrell Mitchell to spark Australia out of their slumber when he passed to Josh Addo-Carr in space on the first tackle and the winger sprinted 90 metres downfield for his first try of the tournament.

Angus Crichton followed him over the line as the half drew to a close with Valentine Holmes' faultless kicking giving Australia an 18-4 lead at the break.

Mitchell went over soon after half-time and from there the procession began for the Kangaroos.

Grant, whose cunning and scheming around the ruck troubled Fiji, scored a simple try after registering a 40/20, with captain James Tedesco joining him on the scoresheet.

Fiji fullback Sunia Turuva nabbed a try back at the death to the delight of the locals.

Earlier, hosts England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 60-6 thrashing of Samoa.

with AAP

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