Hull KR forward Frankie Halton says it will mean the world to him and his family when he pulls on the green jersey of Ireland at this year’s World Cup.
The 26-year-old has been a revelation in Super League since linking up with the Robins ahead of this season, even attracting interest from the NRL.
Halton was born in England and grew up in the Lancashire town of Leigh. He is of Irish heritage through his mother’s side of the family, with his granddad hailing from Dublin.
Halton made his international debut for Ireland in a win over Spain in the World Cup qualifying process in 2019, and then played against Italy.
“My grandad was from Dublin and our family are from Kinsale so that’s my heritage,” Halton told Love Rugby League.
“It means a lot to my mum. She cried when I made my Ireland debut a few years ago and she still bangs on about it now. It is really important to us as a family so I’m really excited and I can’t wait for the World Cup.”
Ireland targeting quarter-finals, says Frankie Halton
The Wolfhounds will be led by history-maker Ged Corcoran at this year’s tournament. Corcoran is the first Irish-born head coach of the Ireland national team.
Ireland are in a group with New Zealand, Lebanon and Jamaica this year. Halton insists they are serious about the World Cup and are eager to show the world what they are made of.
“I’m really excited,” Halton said. “I’ve tried not to think of it too much throughout the season but now we are getting towards the back end of the year it is getting exciting.
“There’s a couple of new additions on the backroom staff and there’s a few NRL lads who are putting their hand up, so hopefully we’ll have a good team and that we can have a red hot crack at it.
“I think the quarters are the minimum for us. We are putting together a strong team. We’ve got a couple of good teams in our group but I don’t see why we can’t make the quarter-finals at least, so that’s the goal.”
Rugby league growing in Ireland
Halton, who has previously played for Featherstone and Swinton, believes a strong World Cup campaign could help catapult the sport on the island.
“The game is definitely growing over there, Halton added.
“We’ve had some of the Irish domestic boys come and train with us in the past. When we were in camp in 2019, some of the amateur lads came and trained with us.
“The game is growing over there, we just need to give it another big push. If we have a good World Cup then it could go big over there. Hopefully we can get some more grassroots clubs involved and build it up from there.”
Ireland face Jamaica in their first World Cup game at Headingley on Sunday, October 16.