Rugby League Ireland unveils new selection policy
Published 29/09/2016 | 19:56
Ireland have unveiled a new selection policy to increase the number of home-based players guaranteed international recognition.
Under the new policy, which will be introduced in time for Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Russia next month, Mark Aston's 19-man squad must contain at least eight players who have played club rugby in Ireland.
That number will become six when Ireland play in World Cup or European Championship matches against major nations such as England or Australia.
The policy shift is designed to grow rugby league throughout the country and reduce the national team's previous reliance on Super League and NRL-based players with Irish heritage.
Richard Egan, director of Rugby League Ireland, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for players in the domestic competition to help drive Ireland's World Cup challenge. The incentive to qualify for and play in the World Cup is massive and I'm confident our squad will be strong enough to achieve this.
"Rugby League is growing in popularity throughout Ireland - there are players coming into the game with considerable pedigree in other sports such as rugby union and GAA.
"The decision to ensure that all international squads consist of a greater number of players who come from the domestic competition acknowledges and supports this growth."
Ireland will play development matches against Malta on October 8 and Jamaica on October 16 at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray, Co Wicklow, before the World Cup qualifiers against Spain on October 22 in Valencia and Russia a week later in Bray.
Earlier this month, an Ireland team consisting entirely of Ireland-based players defeated Italy 60-26 in Brescia.