World Cup to send Ireland players home despite chance of making quarter-finals

Luke Keary Ireland Credit: Alamy
Luke Keary Ireland Credit: Alamy

Australian-based players from the Ireland camp will return Down Under on Saturday, despite on paper still being able to qualify for the quarter-finals. 

Love Rugby League has since been informed that the decision to fly players home on Saturday was made by Ireland, and not the tournament operators.

Ireland would require Jamaica to upset the odds and defeat Lebanon on Sunday in Group C to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The likes of Luke Keary, Henry O’Kane and Jaimin Jolliffe are set to be on a plane on Saturday afternoon and will be forced to watch the rest of the tournament from home in Australia. 

“I’m flying out tomorrow afternoon,” Kear told Love Rugby League. “I’m not sure what time!

“I’ll bring the family back in a couple of years to visit Ireland.” 

Ireland coach shares disappointment

Head coach Ged Corcoran also shared his disappointment in the scheduling, saying he would have liked more time with his team and to close down the camp “as a group”.  

“We were going to ride it out until Sunday,” Corcoran said. “But sadly with the way the schedule has been put together, some of our players depart tomorrow (Saturday) believe it or not, which is sad because we don’t get to close down houses as a squad.

“But we should have been given the chance to see it out until Sunday and then close down as a group and finish the stages together, but sadly some of our players have to depart tomorrow (Saturday).”

New Zealand have secured their place in the quarter-finals following the 48-10 victory at Headingley Stadium, finishing the group stages undefeated. A win for Lebanon would see them follow, with their game set for Sunday against Jamaica at the Leigh Sports Village.

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