By Conor Kelly, 11/9/12

Ireland are set to face England Knights and Scotland next month as part of the 2012 Alitalia European Cup.

The Ireland team will be looking to kick start their preparation for the 2013 World Cup when they face two sides with whom they have recently crossed paths.

In June the Wolfhounds took on the England Knights as the curtain raiser to the game between the Exiles and England in St Helens. That time the Knights ran out comfortable winners over a youthful Irish side.

Belfast Harlequins will host the fixture against the England Knights in what will be the Ulster club’s first time hosting a Rugby League International. This game will take place on Friday 19th of October at 19:30.

Before this Ireland will visit Edinburgh to take on close rivals Scotland. The last time the two sides met the Scots ran out winners but Mark Aston’s side will be looking to gain revenge in this fixture.

The tournament is organised by Rugby League European Federation General Manger Danny Kazandjian who expects the Alitalia European Cup, which mirrors the matches to be played by England, Wales and France in their Triangular Tournament, to be highly competitive.

“The two Celtic nations are preparing for next year’s World Cup and England Knights were looking for fixtures on consecutive weekends to continue to build their structures and spirit,” he said. “Alitalia have been and continue to be superb sponsors for this competition.”

Speaking on the launch of this years fixtures Ireland coach Mark Aston said, “We are delighted to be participating in the Alitalia European Cup. With the World Cup just over 12 months away it will give us the ideal opportunity to start our preparation in earnest. We played against the England Knights before the first Exiles game and for 35 minutes we competed with only a limited amount of preparation and players available so we certainly looking forward renewing that battle.”

ALITALIA EUROPEAN CUP SCHEDULE

Round 1: 14 October: SCOTLAND v IRELAND, Meggetland, Edinburgh 1400 hrs
Round 2: 19 October IRELAND v ENGLAND KNIGHTS, Belfast Harlequins, Belfast 1930 hrs
Round 3: 28 October: SCOTLAND v ENGLAND KNIGHTS, Meggetland, Edinburgh 1400 hrs