The depression that hit the shaky isles after the short price Rugby World Cup favourites bombed out worsened in windy Wellington yesterday when rugby league’s Kangaroos handed out a record 58-0 thumping to the Kiwis.

A match that was planned to be the prelude to next year’s rugby league “world” cup ended up proving just one thing – a Kangaroos team with a record eight test debutants left the competitiveness, and marketability, of the world cup hanging by one of Paul Keating’s “gossamer threads”.

All eight first time Kangaroos played outstanding football, none better than the Cronulla Sharks’ Greg Bird and the youngest ever test player, the Melbourne Storm’s Israel Folau who, at 18, has an outstanding football career ahead of him.

The Kiwis, also a “new look” side, were just plain woeful. They leave today for test matches against England and world cup organisers will be hoping they can find some form — otherwise promoting a world cup at the end of a long club season might be a nightmare.

The game certainly marked stand-in captain Cameron Smith as the long term Kangaroos leader when the injured Darren Lockyer retires from representative football after the world cup.

Rugby union’s world cup featured some lopsided scores when the heavyweights met the minions, but when you have a record score in a game involving two of the three rugby league heavyweights the “international” game certainly has a problem.

The Kiwis were without some of the UK based players, and the injured Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall, but the magnitude of the loss is genuinely troubling for rugby league.

But it is not troubling for the NRL premiership. The array of talented young players on display yesterday must surely have the Australian Rugby Union looking at who is coming off contract at the end of 2008!

The long 2007 rugby league season is finally over. And it ended as it began – with overwhelming evidence that the rising talent in the NRL premiership gives it an assured future.