Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston believes Australia and New Zealand are the teams to beat as the Rugby League World Cup moves into the quarter final stages this weekend.
The former Great Britain scum half, who also coaches the Ireland national side, spoke to The Star at Owlerton Stadium after annoucing the venue will be the new home of the Sheffield Eagles first team next year.
“I think Australia and New Zealand are by far the best two sides in the competion,” said the Eagles legend, “We’ll probably see a final of those two.”
Aston’s Irish team were beaten by tournament favorites Austrlia 50-0 in their final Group A game. Ireland failed to win any of their three games and finished bottom of the group after losing to Fiji and England.
But despite the setback, Aston remains upbeat about their prospects. “We were in a very difficult group, and I beleive that three of the teams we played against will be in the semi finals,” he said. “But I’ve enjoyed the challenge. I was coaching some great players and I have been given a lot of respect from the players in Super League and the NRL.
“I’ve been doing it three years now and I’ve reviewed it and thought will I carry on? I’m up for challenges and I always have been. I think I can make a difference.
“Will I be around when the World Cup comes in four years? I think there’s a big possiblity because that’s me, isn’t it?”
Holders New Zealand face Scotland in the first of the quarter finals, with Australia taking on competition darkhorses the USA. Steve McNamara’s England clash with France while Samoa and Fiji come to blows in what promises to be a brusing ecounter.