Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston is on international duty plotting Ireland’s bid to create an upset in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
The Wolfhounds head coach has welcomed his squad to their training camp in the run up to the start of the tournament at the end of the month.
“It’s an exciting time for me to be coaching in a World Cup,” said Aston who is a former Great Britain international. “It’s going to be tough but I’ve got a group of people who are proud to play for Ireland.”
It’s a new challenge for Aston who led the Eagles to a second successive Championship title this year.
Ireland are outsiders in a group that sees them play England, Australia and Fiji in the opening stage of the competition.
The 24-man squad has 10 Super League players and four from Australia’s NRL.
It includes Wigan’s Pat Richards, Catalan winger Damien Blanch and the Grix brothers Simon (Warrington) and Scott (Huddersfield).
The crucial game will be the opener against Fiji at Rochdale on Monday 28 October, which is set to be a sell-out.
Aston said: “I’m looking forward to working with the people in the squad. It’s a tough group but there’s no need to be frightened; we will go out there and do our best.
“We want the win against Fiji which will set us up for England and Australia.”
The squad is based at the university in Preston and backing up Aston as assistant coaches are former Eagles players and ex-Ireland internationals Ryan Sheridan and Ged Corcoran.
The World Cup kicks off with England against Australia at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday 26 October with the final at Old Trafford on Saturday 30 November.