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The Wheelaroos move confidently into the World Cup Semi-finals with Australian coach Brett Clark nominating NSW Blues player Diab Karim as one of his trump cards against defending champions France.

In their last do-or-die pool game against Spain, Karim scored two tries for Australia in their 52-32 win, which pushed them into a semi against France. England takes on Wales in the other semi.

Karim has now scored in all three pool games for the Wheelaroos.

“The maturity of Diab from the last World Cup to this one has really elevated his level of play,” Clark told

“He’s a big-game player and thrives on those big moments.

“His game against England was really good, but he didn’t get the accolades. Against Ireland he was good but against Spain he was a stand-out,” Clark said.

Karim gets the first for the Wheelaroos

“Throughout the game he had the ability to work with everyone. When he came off he still had good communication from the sidelines.

“He’s definitely matured into a good footballer.”

Karim moved from the Canberra Raiders to Parramatta this year and scored four tries in the Eels 54-44 win over St George Illawarra in the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League grand final on 10 April.

Clark said against Spain he rotated all his players to find the best combinations heading into the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

“It was about showing them we’re ready, showing them we play tough football,” Clark said.

“Given the fact that whoever won was going to make the Semi-finals I thought our guys showed good composure.”

Australia met France, the current world No.1s, twice in the 2017 World Cup.

“We absolutely got demolished; we played them in a warm-up game and it wasn’t pretty,” Clark said. “Then we played them in the pool rounds and we just weren’t up to their standard.

“We got up to 16-0 early and then went into half-time 20 points down,” he said.

“I don’t want a repeat of that and we haven’t got the team to do that. It’s about our mindset. We haven’t reached our full potential yet.

“I know the Wheelaroos can play and I know they can come out of this tournament ranked No.1 in the world.”

France has several players from both the 2013 and 2017 World Cups. They beat England in the 2017 final, with Australia taking bronze over Italy.

“So they’ve got some really good talent in that squad. That’s what’s made them so successful,” Clark said.

“We have a few guys from the last World Cup but a lot of our squad is new blood.

“We want to keep this dynamic core group together as we build into the next World Cup (2025).

“I really think we can shake France up. I also think we have the team to beat England (ranked world No.2) as well considering in that loss we had four disallowed tries.”

The Wheelaroos currently enjoy a No.4 world ranking.


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