Ireland dream big for RL World Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ireland dream big for RL World Cup

15/10/2008 06:21:16 PM Comments (0)

Ireland have arrived believing they can make the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup with a squad which includes four players from the country's fledgling domestic competition.

Made up predominantly of Super League players, the $500 outsiders, who made the quarters at the last World Cup in 2000, say they can go one better this time, even after drawing Tonga and Samoa in the tournament's tough pool three.

The Wolfhounds have been hit by the withdrawals of Melbourne prop Brett White and Wests Tigers back Shannon McDonnell, but do boast the man who scored the famous Benji Marshall flick-pass grand final try for the Tigers, winger Pat Richards.

The squad also includes four players from Ireland's six-team Carnegie League and is coached by former Super league mentor Andy Kelly, who has taken time off from his kitchen-fitting business to take the reins.

"Ambition allows us to dream of (being) World Cup winners and things like that but realistically if we get over Tonga and Samoa we could look at a semi-final berth," Kelly said on the team's arrival in Sydney.

"They are massively physical (sides) ... (we'll) use a little bit of brain and agility and hopefully we've got enough about us to come up with the right game plan and enthusiasm to be a good representative Ireland side and get beyond this group stage."

Kelly's squad headed straight to Manly's training base at Narrabeen and will set up camp in Parramatta on Monday ahead of their first clash, against Tonga on October 27 at Parramatta Stadium.

"We're here to be a part of the World Cup and to be a big part we can't whimper in and whimper out," Kelly said.

"We're not going to beat (Samoa and Tonga) by running straight into them so we'll have a go at playing football and entertaining people.

"And we'll show the true Irish spirit."

Kelly said the 13-man game was still in its infancy on the Emerald Isle.

"From the days when we had (former Newcastle winger) Brian Carney as the sole Irish representative, we've brought over four guys now from the domestic Irish leagues," he said.

"If we keep pushing on with firm feet and a good solid underpinning to the Irish leagues it will grow in strength and maybe in another six years we'll see a bigger representation of first generation Irish.

"But now we still call on heritage players to represent us and represent us proudly."

One full-blooded Irishman in the squad is Carlow Crusaders prop Wayne Kerr, whose name alone is sure to attract a cult following and who took up league three years ago to keep fit as a rugby union player during summer.

"They are aware (of the World Cup in Ireland) but it still needs a lot more coverage and a lot more support by people back in Ireland," he said.

"But hopefully with four of us on the squad now people will start watching it and hopefully we'll get plenty of support from them."

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