Sport

Thursday 23 November 2017

Liam Finn: We'll be playing knockout rugby from day one

Liam Finn will become Ireland's most-capped international in the 2017 World Cup
Liam Finn will become Ireland's most-capped international in the 2017 World Cup

Ireland captain Liam Finn says his team will be playing knockout rugby from the start when they kick off their World Cup campaign in a fortnight's time.

Finn was flying out with the Irish squad on Friday for a stopover in Dubai en route to Queensland, where they will set up camp ahead of their opening game against Italy in Cairns on October 29.

They then take on Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on November 5 and play their final group game against Wales in Perth a week later.

With only one team from the group going through to the quarter-finals - and a potential meeting with England in Melbourne - Finn says the aim is to produce a clean sweep of victories.

"There's no leeway," he said. "We basically have to win all three games I would imagine.

"The Italy squad looks pretty strong so that will be a big challenge first up and then PNG will probably be another step up with a really good squad and an environment that none of us have experienced before.

"It will be interesting. There is no way through for second place so it's pretty much knockout from day one for us."

The Ireland squad is bolstered by the addition of St Helens utility forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Leeds prop Brad Singleton, alongside their club-mates Kyle Amor and Anthony Mullally.

Wigan's former England hooker Michael McIlorum, one of the survivors from 2008, also returns.

It might have been even stronger, with NRL duo Issac Luke and Luke Keary demonstrating the sudden popularity of international rugby league around World Cup time by putting their hands up to play for the Wolfhounds only to be thwarted by red tape and injury.

"It always catches on in World Cup year," laughed Finn, who is set to become Ireland's most capped player as he prepares to play in his third World Cup.

"I enjoy it every year. I enjoy the environment when you play for Ireland, it's different to club rugby. Players come from everywhere and have good craic.

"I don't expect everyone to play every year because it's probably unrealistic, especially when clubs won't give them that bit of time off afterwards."

Finn will have his Wakefield team-mate Scott Grix, also a long-serving Ireland international, at his side and is looking forward to having another Trinity colleague, prop James Hasson, providing plenty of firepower up front.

"We've obviously got some decent names in the pack in there and we're hoping we can get them all in our 17 and have a good crack because, if you've got a decent pack, you've a chance," Finn said.

"It's nice to have four or five or even six of them because if you've one or two you expect them to go 80 minutes you don't get the best out of them. We've a few lined up there and hopefully they can all complement each other, which would be good."

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