Rugby League: Finn ready to lead Ireland in World Cup
LIAM Finn has spoken of his pride after being confirmed as Ireland's captain for the 2013 World Cup.
The Featherstone half-back, who was last month named Championship player of the year, led Ireland to victory over Scotland in last Sunday's opening Alitalia European Cup match and will again be in charge when they host England Knights in Belfast on Saturday evening.
Ireland coach Mark Aston has now confirmed that Finn will keep the job for next year's World Cup, in which they are placed in the same group of Australia, England and Fiji.
"I'm delighted," said Finn, 28, from Ireland's camp in Belfast. "This is a massive honour and I can't wait to get going.
"Obviously we are 12 months away but it gives us time to think about it and plan and plenty of time to keep getting more excited and to prepare as well as we can."
Aston has appointed Warrington's Tyrone McCarthy as vice-captain, rounding off a memorable year for the loose forward, who picked up a Challenge Cup winners medal with his club in August.
"This is a massive and proud moment for me," the 24-year-old McCarthy said. "It's a great pleasure to even be picked for Ireland and to be asked to be one of the leaders in the team is a big occasion for me."
Aston said: "Since I got involved with the team just over 12 months ago, Liam has been outstanding as a bloke and as a leader.
"I am highly delighted that he has accepted the role and will be taking us into the World Cup. He's a very committed, outstanding individual and outstanding player.
"He is supported by another young man who is making his way in the game with Warrington Wolves, Tyrone McCarthy, who again epitomises what we want Ireland to look like and what we want them to be - 100% committed, 100% passionate about making Ireland a very successful rugby league country."
Aston put his players through their paces in the Ballynahinch gym of former Ulster and Ireland rugby union skipper Andy Ward, who played rugby league with Ballynahinch and is looking forward to the game at Deramore Park.
"I think it will be a good contest and the boys all seem to be in good spirits as well," Ward said. "It gets them out of the hotel more than anything but I'm just delighted to have them down here in my gym."
The game will be the first rugby league international to be held in Belfast since the 2000 World Cup when Ireland beat Samoa.