World Cup test for Eagles boss

Ireland World Cup coach Mark Aston
Ireland World Cup coach Mark Aston
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Head coach Mark Aston’s Ireland team face a crucial opening game in the Rugby League World Cup tonight.

A win over Fiji would set them up to qualify for the knockout stages with three out of the four teams in Group A going through.

The Sheffield Eagles boss knows the Wolfhounds will be the underdogs at Rochdale.

“It’s tough group with England and Australia in there so a win over Fiji would give us the edge,” he said.

“Training has been going well and it’s a case of blending individuals into a collective group.”

Aston has named a 19-man squad that includes Super League stars Wigan’s Pat Richards and Simon Grix (Warrington) plus from the Australia’s NRL Apirana Pewhairangi (Parramatta), Brett White (Canberra) and Josh Toole (St George Illawarra).

Cup favourites Australia put down a marker with a 28-20 win over England in the opening game of the tournament.

Ireland are the lowest ranked team in the group at ninth and a win would give revenge for a defeat to Fiji that denied them a place in the semi-finals of the 2008 competition.

Centre James Mendeika said: “ I feel that we have a lot of skill, brawn and speed.

* Ireland squad for Fiji game: Dave Allen, Luke Ambler, Bob Beswick, Damien Blanch, Danny Bridge, Ben Currie, Liam Finn, Scott Grix, Kurt Haggerty, James Hasson, Rory Kostjasyn, Stuart Littler, James Mendeika, Tyrone McCarthy, Anthony Mullally, Eamon O’Carroll, Apirana Pewhairangi, Pat Richards, Brett White.