Aston enthuses about homegrown Irishmen
Ireland coach Mark Aston has faith in the domestic Irish players he has included in his squad to face Russia tomorrow at Bray in the deciding World Cup qualifier.
If Ireland win, then they will have sealed a place in the 2017 tournament in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
“They’ve absolutely rolled their sleeves up and been a credit to the domestic competition over here,” he said.
“They haven’t looked out of place, and I thought James Kelly did well last week.
“Young Alan McMahon had a great debut. Matty Hadden, who has been over in the UK playing with Rochdale for the past couple of seasons, he has come on leaps and bounds.
“Then there’s Gareth Gill that’s still getting better.
“I’m really pleased with them. They’re an integral part of this squad.”
One addition to the squad is Warrington youngster Toby King, who will be playing alongside his brother George.
“This kid’s played in Grand Finals and Challenge Cup finals for Warrington,” Aston said.
“He’s the future. These kids are the future for Ireland Rugby League.
“George and Toby King are both passionate about playing. As is Joe Philbin.
“We’ve got a few people making a debut tomorrow and we’re looking forward to the occasion.”
Aston, meanwhile, is expecting the largely unknown Russians to present a real physical threat to his side, as he urges Irish fans to get down to Bray and back the team.
Around 500 Russians are expected at the game to help boost the away support.
“It’ll be physical and it’ll be tough,” Aston added.
“There’ll be plenty of guts out there for everybody to see.
“The intensity is what I’m talking about, and hopefully the skill sets.
“Hopefully, definitely, they’ll see an Ireland win!”