Liam Finn is backing the new Rugby League Ireland board to take the game into new audiences after not seeing much progress throughout his career.
The 35-year-old, who has recently retired from the international game, is Ireland’s most-capped player with 28 appearances to his name and he is also their record point-scorer.
Finn, who was born in Yorkshire but has Irish family heritage, made his international bow back in 2007.
“The growth of the national side hasn’t progress even slightly if I’m honest,” Finn told loverugbyleague.com.
“It’s probably been going backwards over the years but there are new people involved on the Rugby League Ireland board now and it’s their job to take it forward.”
Finn was a stalwart for the Wolfhounds for over 10 years until he hung up his boots following their European Championship campaign earlier this month.
It was well-documented that the Newcastle Thunder half-back wasn’t happy with the old board planning to scrap the use of heritage players, but he is fully backing the new board to thrive on both the domestic and international scene.
“I think the new people in charge of Ireland have got some good ideas and I think the domestic game will certainly progress,” Finn added.
“I think they are well equipped to take the domestic game forward. They are optimistic, they are willing to work hard and they will try to get as many people in Ireland watching rugby league as possible, which is probably the main thing to do.
“We need the domestic players to be playing against the English teams as that is the only way to accelerate their learning. Ex-rugby union or Gaelic football players just playing against each other is not going to develop them into top rugby league players.
“The national team needs the heritage players so the nation can develop though. Cost will obviously be an issue but hopefully the new people at RLI can come up with a few good ideas and then we can look positively to the future.”