Ireland international Tyrone McCarthy wants to see this autumn’s World Cup go ahead as planned despite the withdrawals of Australia and New Zealand.
The Kangaroos and Kiwis released a joint statement on Thursday confirming their withdrawal from this year’s World Cup in England, citing that it is “too unsafe to travel” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was only last week that World Cup organisers announced that the tournament would go ahead as planned, but the recent news from the southern hemisphere has placed the event in serious doubt.
Australia and New Zealand have called for the World Cup to be postponed until 2022, but Ireland forward McCarthy, who is part of the RLWC2021’s Player Working Group, would like to see the tournament still go ahead this October.
“I’m really disappointed not only from being a fan of the game, but also by not having the opportunity to play against the Kiwis,” McCarthy told Love Rugby League.
“You want to see as many of the best players as there can be. You can understand their reasoning in some extent but, as for the tournament, I’d like to think that it is going to go ahead.
“From our point of view, it is disappointing as rugby league fans but the beauty of the World Cup is that it attracts new fans and some of the new fans turning up won’t even know who some of the England players are so I still think it is a massive opportunity for the game to showcase itself and, in theory, it opens it up a little bit more to everyone else.
“Everyone wants to see the best players but if the NRL don’t rule out the players playing, then you might see some of their players representing their heritage and playing for the tier two nations. I know (James) Tedesco played for Italy in the last World Cup, so you might still see those players but in a different jersey.”
McCarthy, who has won 19 caps for Ireland since making his international debut in 2009, would like to see the tournament stick with 16 nations, with two emerging nations filling the vacant spots of Australia and New Zealand to give them a chance to shine on the world stage.
“Logistically, that would probably make more sense in terms of the pool that has been drawn and what has been going on behind the scenes,” he added.
“I’ve been part of the Player Working Group for the World Cup and I’ve seen how thorough they’ve been in collecting all of our opinions.
“What they are coming up with seems really special so it would seem like such a shame to waste all of that when people talk about postponing it. There are so many other issues to consider like whether sponsors would want to remain involved, stadium availability, competing with other sporting events and all that kind of stuff.
“For me, I would like to see two emerging nations come through. It is a great opportunity for them who would otherwise miss out on it, so that would be my personal preference.”
The World Cup is scheduled to get underway at St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 23, when hosts England take on Samoa.
McCarthy’s Ireland were due to meet New Zealand in the group stages as well as Jamaica and Lebanon.