Tuesday 16 January 2018

Aston hails 'champion' White

Brett White, right, was singled out for his part in the Wolfhounds' opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji
Brett White, right, was singled out for his part in the Wolfhounds' opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji

Coach Mark Aston has publicly thanked Canberra Raiders prop Brett White for his bravery during Ireland's difficult World Cup campaign.

White, 31, was singled out by Aston for his part in the Wolfhounds' opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji, claiming he was the best player on the pitch "by a country mile", and lavished praise on the former Kangaroo for defying an early head knock to lead their challenge in Saturday's 42-0 loss to England, which effectively ended their hopes of qualification from the toughest group.

"He went back on but it was probably tougher for him to come off in the first place," Aston said. "He didn't want to come off. We kept getting messages out to him and he said he was good. He'd have stayed out there if we had let him."

White, who qualifies through his Irish grandfather, was one of four NRL players recruited by Aston, who has been especially delighted by the contribution of the tough-tackling front rower.

"He's a champion," Aston said. "He's certainly come over here and set the tone for us.

"The nice thing is that he's mixing with the younger guys and giving them the experience he's had. You don't play at the level he's played at for a lot of years and in Grand Finals and not be a real good bloke.

"I know he's helped (captain) Liam (Finn) really well. He just speaks sense and gets his point across.

"There's nobody more disappointed than him at the moment. He wants to win every single game. That will rub off. And over the years we'll build the culture that we want in Ireland and hopefully take it on to another level."

White had put his hand up to play for Andy Kelly's team in the 2008 World Cup but was ruled out by a foot injury.

He went on to play for the Kangaroos in the 2009 Four Nations Series and was in the team that beat England 46-16 in the final at Elland Road but never gave up hope of representing Ireland in memory of his late grandfather, wh o went over to Australia in 1951 to work on the snow fields in the New South Wales mountain town of Jindabyne during the skiing season and settled there.

"Growing up, I was very close to my grandfather," White told Press Association Sport. "I had a really close relationship with him. Working on the farm with him as a kid taught me many valuable life lessons, the most important being the hard work ethic I learned from him.

"That's why I wanted to play in the last World Cup. Unfortunately I got ruled out late, so I was grateful I got the opportunity to be part of this one."

White is now set to face his fellow countrymen, including his Canberra team-mate Josh Papalii, as Ireland prepare for their final group game against Australia in Limerick on Saturday night.

Aston's men will need to pull off one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time if they are to topple the tournament favourites but captain Liam Finn insists his players will play with pride when they run out at Thomond Park.

"That 20-minute purple patch by England killed the game off but you've seen 17 blokes out there have a dig," Finn said. "They put plenty of pride in the shirt and that's all we've asked for from day one.

"We've got to do that again next week and, if we do that, we'll walk away from the tournament happy with ourselves.

"The most important thing is that we enjoyed the battle, even though we were on the wrong end of the score. We were still enjoying the game in the last minute so I couldn't ask for any more."

Press Association

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