Ged Corcoran hopes Ireland will raise a few eyebrows at this year’s World Cup – starting with their squad.
The new coach and officials from the country’s governing body have been digging deep to uncover as many potential players as possible, with Sydney Roosters halfback Luke Keary and Leeds’ versatile former England fullback or halfback Richie Myler possible picks.
Also eligible are Gold Coast Titans prop Jaimin Jolliffe, Manly Sea Eagles centre Morgan Harper and Canberra Raiders’ former Wigan forward Harry Rushton.
And Corcoran, a former Ireland forward who served as assistant to successive Wolfhounds coaches Mark Aston, with whom he also works at Sheffield, and Stuart Littler before getting the top job in April, says those selected will enjoy an elite-level environment.
“We’ve been working hard to sharpen everything up and make ourselves more professional in all areas,” explained the 39-year-old County Offaly-born former Halifax, Dewsbury, Oldham, Sheffield and Toulouse forward, who will be assisted by Joe O’Callaghan, an Australian with Irish heritage who is on the coaching staff at South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“It’s been a busy few months putting things in place, whether that be new structures and policies, the integration of players or the way we communicate with clubs.
“We’ve been working hard to spread the message that we’re serious about what we’re doing and that we operate a player-first policy, so club coaches need have no concerns about welfare when their players spend time with us.
“In return, we’re looking for players who have a passion for and commitment to Ireland and who will buy into the culture we are trying to create.
“It’s a new Ireland way, and we’re seeking continuity, both in terms of staff and players, and with that stability so we can give ourselves the best chance of progressing.
“Maybe in the past, we’ve been seen as being a little bit amateurish, and suffered due to a stereotype of Ireland and its people.
“Perhaps some Irish folk do enjoy a drink, but it’s also a place full of good, honest grafters, and we won’t fail for lack of effort.”
Ireland will come up against Jamaica, Lebanon and New Zealand in Group C, and Corcoran wants to make a serious bid for the quarter-finals.
“There won’t be rash predictions, but we’ll assemble as strong a squad as possible, prepare as well as possible and have a real go,” he continued.
“We’ve already had a very useful training camp (in June), which Joe O’Callaghan attended, and we’ll be getting the squad together as soon after the end of the club season as we can, with the aim of hitting the ground running when the World Cup starts in October.”
Ireland play Lebanon at Leigh in between clashes with Jamaica and New Zealand at Leeds, where they will be based, and Corcoran is keen to generate support in both places.
“Like many towns and cities, both Leigh and Leeds have a sizeable number of people with Irish heritage, and it would be great to have them on board for what will be an exciting journey,” he added.
Meanwhile Keary, who qualifies for Ireland through his father, admits he is excited at the thought of putting on the green jersey.
“Dad’s family is still over there,” said Keary.
“I haven’t been over there but you just feel proud. When you talked about it as a kid you felt proud and it makes me feel good thinking about it.
“I’m keen to play and if I do get the chance, I’ll be super proud to put the jersey on.
“I think it’s going to be a great World Cup. So many great NRL players are putting their hands up for their nations of heritage and birth. It’s great for our game.”
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