Ireland coach Mark Aston has praised the senior players with whom he worked at the European Championships last year.
Despite talk from some senior players about how good Aston is as a squad manager, the Sheffield Eagles tactician insists that player power works to his advantage in this case.
“In all the years I’ve coached Ireland I’ve never had one problem,” he told Love Rugby League.
“I’ve got to put that down to the players and their professional approach.
“I know they’ve spoken about me being relaxed and a bit laid-back.
“Well, I am at certain times, but there’s a time to work hard too. But there’s certain times where they [the players] have got to unwind and relax.
“Some of these players have played and trained 10 months of the season, in a really intense way.
“I need to take that off them, and let them play and express themselves.
“When we earn the right to have a social and go out together, let’s do it. But don’t be disrespectful.
“They run it for me. They know what I’m about. They epitomise what I’m about as a coach, and they deliver what I want.
“But they keep everyone in check, and that’s important. It’s not about me kicking off and losing my composure.
“I trust them to be professional. I say, ‘This is what you do in your club environment, so do what you do there, don’t change it because you’re in an international environment.”
A number of domestic players have begun to feature prominently in the Ireland squad in recent seasons, and Aston believes that there is more talent to be unearthed in the Emerald Isle.
Many of the up-and-coming Irish youngsters could do with some experience in the UK’s third tier, he thinks, before attempting to rise to a higher level.
“Some of them just need to get out there and play,” he said.
“League 1 is probably the better breeding ground for them now, to get a bit of experience.
“Then we might have a look at them. There’s players over there that should be coming over here now.
“If people ask me, then I say ‘take them’. They’re good kids who want to progress.
“It’s all about developing players. If they want to come over, and I can point them in the right direction, then that’s what we’ll do.”