Friday 19 October 2018

Brett White included in Irish squad for Rugby League World Cup

Ian Laybourn

Ireland coach Mark Aston has included five Australia-based players in his 24-man squad for the World Cup.

They include Canberra Raiders' former Kangaroos prop Brett White, 31, who played against England in the 2009 Four Nations Series final at Elland Road.

White, who also played eight times for New South Wales in State of Origin, was named in Ireland's squad for the last World Cup in 2008 but pulled out in order to have foot surgery.

The squad also includes Manly Sea Eagles second rower James Hasson, who is still waiting to hear if he will play in Sunday's NRL Grand Final against Sydney Roosters.

Hasson, who was born in Hillingdon, London, joined the Sea Eagles at the start of this season after failing to secure a new deal with Cronulla and has so far made 12 appearances off the bench. He has been included in Manly's 19-man squad following the loss of broken-neck victim Richard Fa'aoso.

Ireland's other NRL-based players are New Zealand-born stand-off Apirana Pewhairangi , 21, who joined Parramatta at the start of this year and made his debut against Brisbane in May, and North Queensland hooker Rory Kostjasyn, 26, who made his debut for Melbourne in the 2010 World Club Challenge against Leeds.

Also in the squad is centre Joshua Toole, made his debut for Ireland in last year's matches against Scotland and England Knights and is currrently playing for Illawarra Cutters.

The big names from Super League include Wigan's 2010 Man of Steel Pat Richards, Catalan Dragons winger Damien Blanch and the Grix brothers, Scott and Simon, who return to the squad for the first time since 2010, while Warrington second rower Ben Currie has opted for Ireland ahead of England.

The team will be captained by Featherstone half-back Liam Finn, who is one of nine survivors from the side that went within 80 minutes of reaching the semi-finals in 2008.

There are nine uncapped players, although Huddersfield prop Anthony Mullally, Widnes second rower Kurt Haggerty and Warrington forward Danny Bridge all played in a friendly against England Knights last season.

Aston said: "I am really pleased with the squad we have named, which is a combination of experience and younger up and coming players from both hemispheres.

"I am confident that we are fully equipped to be competitive in what is a really tough group and we are really looking forward to the challenge ahead against three of the best teams in the world."

Aston has opted not to play a warm-up match and will take his squad into camp in Preston to prepare for their opening game against Fiji, the team that knocked them out five years ago, in Rochdale on October 28. They also face England and Australia in their group.

Ireland squad: Dave Allen (Widnes), Luke Ambler (Halifax), Bob Beswick (Leigh), Damien Blanch (Catalan Dragons), Danny Bridge (Warrington), Ben Currie (Warrington), Liam Finn (Featherstone, capt), Simon Finnigan (Leigh), Scott Grix (Huddersfield), Simon Grix (Warrington), Kurt Haggerty (Barrow), James Hasson (Manly), Rory Kostjasyn (North Queensland), Stuart Littler (Leigh), Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington), James Mendeika (Swinton), Anthony Mullally (Huddersfield), Eamon O'Carroll (Widnes), Apirana Pewhairangi (Parramatta), Pat Richards (Wigan), Colton Roche (Sheffield), Marc Sneyd (Salford), Josh Toole (St George Illawarra), Brett White (Canberra).

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