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Saturday 21 April 2018

Irish future is 'fantastic'

Tom Burgess of England bursts through the Irish challenges. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty
Tom Burgess of England bursts through the Irish challenges. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty

RUGBY LEAGUE: Not even the most one-eyed Irish fan will be expecting the Wolfhounds to topple Australia in Saturday's World Cup match in Limerick, but Brett White is looking at the bigger picture as he gets set to face a host of past and present teammates.

The Canberra Raiders prop forward, who played for Australia in the 2009 Four Nations Series, qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather and sees himself as a pioneer as the Wolfhounds seek to make up ground on their rugby union cousins.

"I see my role as trying to build the brand of rugby league in Ireland," White said.

"I think there's a fantastic future ahead for rugby league in Ireland and, if I can try and help to build that, I'll do my part."

White has led from the front on the field during Ireland's difficult start to the World Cup and, despite comprehensive defeats by Fiji and England, is relishing the experience. "It's been fantastic, really enjoyable," he White.

"We've worked really hard actually. I guess what's surprised me in a way has been the amount of work we've been putting in.

"In saying that, we've needed to. We were in the toughest position of the tournament. That and the professionalism of the organisation has been fantastic."

 

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White is expected to go up against his Canberra pack colleague Josh Papalii and several former teammates from the Melbourne side that won the 2007 and 2009 Grand Finals when Ireland play their final Group A match at Thomond Park.

"A lot of those boys I played with in Melbourne," he said.

"I know first hand the quality of players we're up against.

"We have spoken a lot about the spirit and making sure we don't give up and we keep fighting through the whole game."

Ireland coach Mark Aston heaped praise on the 31-year-old for his bravery and leadership during the side's crushing defeats by Fiji and England.

"Most of these boys have played more Test-match footie than I have," said White.

"I have a bit of experience and, if the team can benefit from my input, then fantastic. But I am here to learn just as much. I will take a lot out of this camp."

White, who was forced to withdraw from Ireland's 2008 World Cup team due to injury, has been thrilled by the tournament.

"It's been great for rugby league worldwide, " he said. "It's been a fantastic spectacle so far with the crowds and the close games."

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