Aston wary of NRL recruits for Ireland

Sheffield and Ireland coach Mark Aston has revealed that he is being cautious about picking players from the NRL for his squad for the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

Aston does not want to harm team spirit by bringing in ‘ringers’ from outside the European game, unless they have a genuine desire to bring something to the squad.

“You never say never, but I’ve got to know a little bit about them,” he told Love Rugby League..

“What I focus on is that it’s a team, and people are committed to it. We had a group of players last year who were utterly committed.

“There are some that are over here at the moment who have put their hand up – Pat Richards, Damien Blanch and Shannon McDonnell.

“I’m never saying never, if there’s people out there who want to put their hand up. But I’ll make that decision on what I see.

“The issue is that I don’t know enough about them [NRL candidates] and I like to know my people. That’s one of the things I need to do this year.”

Aston insists that building that personal knowledge of the players available to him is crucial to any success that the team will enjoy at the tournament.

“Throughout the year we need to be having gatherings, to get together to talk and get to know individuals,” he added.

“I need to have one on ones with them, to get to know what makes them tick before I announce the squad.

“But there’s plenty of quality over here too.”

Indeed, some of Aston’s attention will be devoted to persuading players who have worn the white shirt of England to swap it for an emerald green one.

That includes talking to players who might have played for Ireland in the past, but have subsequently swapped to England or the England Knights.

“There’s the likes of Michael McIlorum, Andy Lynch and Paul Prescott,” he explained.

“There’s Tyrone McCarthy and Liam Finn too. I named Liam as captain and Tyrone as vice captain for the World Cup.

“So there’s plenty of people in this country who will be putting their hand up this year. If people from the NRL do, then we’ll take it into consideration.

“But it’s not a cash rich nation Ireland. We don’t get the money that other countries do.

“There isn’t a lot of money in playing for us, so how do we persuade them to come over here, with the cost of flights and that sort of thing.

“You never say never though – if the right people come along then we’ll consider it.”

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