Ireland Head Coach Stuart Littler is looking to reward the players that earned their nation a place at the World Cup as much as possible as attention turns to the showpiece event in 2021.
With the full fixture schedule announced last week for the tournament, each nation knows where and when they will be playing their group fixtures and despite the potential lure of high-profile heritage stars, Littler is keen to remain as loyal as he can to those players who helped Ireland qualify through the European play-off after wins over Italy and Spain.
“We’ve got to stay loyal to the boys who have done the business for us and got us to that World Cup. But there are players that pop up on radars, players who think they may qualify.
“I’ve just told everyone they’ve got to play as well as they can, they’ve got to be playing and active within their team and the more problems they can give us, the better our squad will be.”
Ireland start and finish their World Cup group matches at Headingley against Jamaica and New Zealand respectively with a trip to play Lebanon in Leigh sandwiched in the middle and Littler is particularly looking forward to playing in his home town.
“It’s a great draw for myself personally playing in my home town. I only live two minutes away from Leigh’s stadium. I have a lot of good memories down there and friends in and around the town. Hopefully we can turn that stadium green.
“We need something to look forward to and that’s massive. There’s no bigger tournament in Rugby League than the World Cup. All the best players are going to be together on that stage and hopefully it all runs smoothly and we’re past the virus.