Wigan prop Liam Byrne says it would be a proud moment for himself and his family if he made Ireland’s World Cup squad at the end of the year.
The 22-year-old helped the Warriors win the Challenge Cup final on Saturday as they beat Huddersfield 16-14 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Byrne was born and raised in Salford but qualifies to play for Ireland through his father’s side of the family, who hail from Belfast.
He made his international debut for Ireland in 2018, winning four caps so far.
“My dad is absolutely chuffed to bits when I played for Ireland,” Byrne told Love Rugby League.
“They are from Belfast and my family see themselves as completely Irish. From the whole of my dad’s side of the family it is huge for them to see me pull on that shirt.
“I think my dad will be (holding back the years if I play in the World Cup); and my grandma as well!”
WOLFHOUNDS: How Ireland could line-up at World Cup
Liam Byrne: We can stand ourselves with a good chance
Ireland have been drawn in a group with New Zealand, Jamaica and Lebanon in the group stages.
The Wolfhounds won two out of three games at the last World Cup, but didn’t make it out of the groups. Byrne believes Ged Corcoran’s side have what it takes to go one better this time around.
He said: “To play on that stage would be massive for me and hopefully we can get a really good team together.
“There’s plenty of lads with Irish heritage who are very experienced within the game so hopefully we can stand ourselves with a good chance.
“We are in a tough group with New Zealand, Jamaica and Lebanon. We are looking forward to getting into camp together. Hopefully we can get in soon and get around each other so we will be looking forward to that.”
Wigan’s Irish connection
Byrne could play alongside his best mate Dec O’Donnell at the World Cup, with the latter playing for Championship side Workington. The pair came through the ranks together at Wigan.
He added: “Hopefully we both get the nod and go on to play alongside each other at a World Cup.
“We played with each other in a couple of friendlies a couple of years ago. It has been a while since we were able to pull on that shirt. It would be special to be able to go out there with one of my best mates.”