Webster enjoys month-long Rugby League World Cup experience
IT WAS not the tournament he had hoped for, but for Ian Webster it was an experience he will never forget.
Webster arrived back in Rockhampton earlier in the week to join the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capras ahead of the 2014 season, after Wales' less than successful stint at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Co-host for the month-long event, Wales featured on the opening day of the tournament in a double-header fixture against Italy at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
Wales boasts a rugby union-dominated sporting landscape, but the local fans got behind the local team at the World Cup, with fans lining the streets as the team made its way to the stadium.
"It was massive. Ahead of the Cardiff game, we needed a police escort to get through the main streets on the way to the stadium," 27-year-old Webster said.
"That was a bit surreal. The fans were crazy. In Wrexham, which is in north Wales and is mainly a football (soccer) area we still got 6000 to a 10,000-seat stadium and that was when we couldn't even qualify for the finals."
Webster and his Welsh teammates were upstaged 32-16 by their Italian counterparts on the opening day, but the Capras hooker said it was a huge occasion, and one he would never forget.
"That was the best.
"That was something playing in front of our home crowd," Webster said of the experience of playing in front of 45,052 fans.
"I've watched it and that was the best I've ever seen any team sing the anthem.
"It was unbelievable. I couldn't even hear my winger talking to me, it was just a constant noise the whole game."
Following its opening match loss to Italy, Wales went down 24-16 to the USA and lost 28-24 to the Cook Islands in its final match of the tournament.
Injuring his ankle during the match against the USA, Webster missed out on his country's final World Cup match, but said he would be fit to start the season with the Capras.
He believed Australia would be too good for New Zealand in the World Cup final on Saturday.
"New Zealand were in a massive game on the weekend, but I still think Australia will win by 20," Webster said.
"There's no way New Zealand will be able to keep up with them ."