Five current Super League stars have been named in the Ireland train-on squad that will prepare for this autumn’s final European qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. The Wolfhounds are in pool A with Italy and Spain, the top two nations going through.
Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford Red Devils), James Bentley (St Helens), George King (Wakefield Trinity) and Liam Byrne (Wigan Warriors) all have significant Super League experience, and they will be supported by new Warrington signing Keenan Brand and recent Hull KR recruit Ethan Ryan, together with experienced Toronto trio Anthony Mullally, Bob Beswick – who will captain the side – and Liam Kay.
Api Pewhairangi is recalled from the New Zealand Warriors and there are eleven players included from the Irish domestic league, the bulk from Longhorns.
Ireland head coach Stuart Littler commented: “Our squad has a youthful look to it with some added quality. We are excited as to what the future holds for Rugby League Ireland. The work done domestically this year has been exceptional and a real step forward. The World Cup is just around the corner and this tournament will assist with the future development and exposure of our players to the international environment.”
Beswick added: “I’m really looking forward to playing for Ireland again with the goal of World Cup qualification our focus. To be selected as captain is a surprise but I’ll do my best to carry on in the same direction that Liam Finn has pushed us over the last decade. Hopefully we can continue to develop the grassroots game. I look forward to working with everyone when we get over and getting down to work.”
IRELAND TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Lee Walsh (Athboy), Fiach Millward, Sam Cullen, Shane Kelly (Barrow Cudas, Carlow), Michael Ward (Batley), Joe Keyes (Bradford), Euan Tierein (Coventry Bears), Martyn Reilly (Dewsbury), Matthew Towey (Galway Tribesmen), Oliver Roberts, Ronan Michael (Huddersfield), Ethan Ryan (Hull KR), Gregg McNally (Leigh), Ben McKiernan, Graham OKeefe, James Mulvaney, Kevin Varga, Matt Connolly, Matthew Coade (Longhorns RL), Roland Podesta (Manly), Danny Bridge (Oldham), Api Pewhairangi (NZ Warriors), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford), James Bentley (St Helens), Frankie Halton (Swinton), Anthony Mullally, Bob Beswick, Liam Kay (Toronto), Jack Mackin (Tweed Head Seagulls), Jack O’Sullivan (University of Gloucestershire), George King (Wakefield), Keenan Brand, Pat Moran, Riley Dean (Warrington), Callum O’Neill, (Widnes), Liam Byrne (Wigan), Dec ODonnell (Workington)
POOL A FIXTURES
Spain v Ireland
26th Oct 5pm
La Ciutat De L’esport, Ronda nord, s/n, 46800 Xàtiva
Italy v Spain
2nd Nov 4pm
Stadio Communale G. Teghil
Ireland v Italy
9th Nov 7pm