Ireland and Scotland have named 19-man squads for their clash at the Morton Stadium, Santry on Saturday (kick off 2pm) in the European Championship, which doubles as a qualifier for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.
Wakefield signing George King, fresh from playing for Warrington in the Super League Grand Final, is included for the Wolfhounds alongside new club mates, skipper and most-capped Irish player Liam Finn, and Scott Grix.
The match will see new coaching teams on both sides following the 2017 World Cup, with former Ireland international Stuart Littler taking the reins of the hosts.
“We are looking forward to what is set to be an exciting tournament,” said Littler. “Having our opening game – and also my debut as head coach – on home soil is great as we look to set the tone against quality opponents. Over the past few seasons, Scotland have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with in international rugby league but we know that, if we perform, we have enough quality within our side to compete with anyone.”
Littler, who will also be looking to the leadership of Salford’s Tyrone McCarthy, added: “This year’s squad is a great mix of youth and experience as we look to develop towards the next World Cup. I am excited by the future of the international game in Ireland and we aim to enjoy ourselves throughout the next three weeks.”
New Scotland coaching duo Chris Chester – who will come up against his trio of Trinity men – and John Duffy have seven potential debutants in their squad – heritage players Luke Westman and Nick Glohe, Keighley duo Davey Dixon and Kieran Moran, Newcastle’s Sam Luckley, and domestic players Matt Hogg and Murray Mitchell – although they may be forced into a late change as Lewis Tierney is having a further head scan tomorrow.
Chester commented: “We are all looking forward to seeing the guys get out on the pitch in Dublin. We have already had two good days training this week and the squad is coming together well and looking sharp and ready to go.
“It is six years since I was involved with Scotland and I am very excited about being so again. International rugby league needs to be supported and it is great to see the levels of commitment to the Bravehearts’ cause from the players, staff and other volunteers. We expect a very tough game against Ireland, the two squads look well matched.”
IRELAND 19-MAN AQUAD
Michael Ward (Batley Bulldogs), Gregg McNally, Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls), Peter Ryan (Coventry Bears), Ed O’Keefe (Galway Tribesmen), Ronan Michael (Huddersfield Giants) Lewis Bienek (Hull FC), Gareth Gill, Richie McHugh (Longhorns RL), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford Red Devils), James Bentley (St Helens), Will Hope (Swinton Lions), Liam Finn, Scott Grix, George King (Wakefield Trinity), Alan McMahon (Waterford Vikings), Liam Byrne, Dec O’Donnell, Jack Higginson (Wigan Warriors)
SCOTLAND 19-MAN SQUAD
David Scott (Batley Bulldogs), Luke Westman (Berkeley Eagles) Lewis Tierney (Catalan Dragons), Frankie Mariano (Doncaster RL), Lewis Clarke, Finn Hutchison (Edinburgh Eagles), Scott Plumridge (Glasgow RL), Ben Kavanagh (Halifax), Will Oakes (Hull KR), Billy McConnachie (Ipswich Jets), Davey Dixon, Kieran Moran (Keighley Cougars), Nick Glohe (Lakes United Seagulls), Sam Luckley (Newcastle Thunder), Matt Hogg (Newcastle University and Edinburgh Eagles), Oscar Thomas (Sheffield Eagles), Murray Mitchell (Strathmore Silverbacks), Ryan Brierley (Toronto Wolfpack), Kane Bentley (Toulouse)