SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Luke Keary of the Roosters looks on before the round 16 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters at Bankwest Stadium on July 05, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Ireland will suit up for their seventh Rugby League World Cup hoping to make it back to the knockout rounds for the first time since 2008 with a squad featuring plenty of talent.

Ireland's last two World Cups have ended in tears, with group-stage exits in both the 2013 and 2017 tournaments.

The format the last two World Cups were played with meant that even winning two out of their three group stage games in the 2017 edition wasn't enough to make it through to the next round.

They were forced into qualification for this tournament through the Euro zone qualifiers, and while they failed to France and Wales in the first round of qualification, easy wins recorded over Spain and Italy during November of 2019 would ultimately see them pass through to the tournament proper.

The World Cup will see them joined by Luke Keary, who played two games for the Kangaroos back in 2018, and is also a one-time State of Origin representative, as well as backup Bulldogs hooker Joshua Cook and Titans prop Jaimin Jolliffe out of the NRL.

Young gun Tigers' edge forward Henry O'Kane also joins the squad as Ireland's fourth Australian-based player, while the remaining 20 players in Ged Corcoran's side are based in England, with plenty of experienced faces to be joined by some excellent upcoming talent that should have Irish fans excited about the prospects for the tournament.

Lumped into Group C, finishing top of the group seems out of the question unless they can snare an upset over New Zealand, with games against Jamaica and Lebanon to decide their ultimate fate.

Here is the team that will represent the Irish at the World Cup.

Full squad

James Bentley (Leeds Rhinos), Keanan Brand (Leigh Centurions), Liam Byrne (Wigan Warriors), Ed Chamberlain (Leigh Centurions), Joshua Cook (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Frankie Halton (Hull KR), James Hasson (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jaimin Jolliffe (Gold Coast Titans), Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters), Joe Keyes (Halifax Panthers), Toby King (Wigan Warriors - loan from Warrington Wolves), George King (Hull KR), Ben Mathiou (Featherstone Rovers), James McDonnell (Wigan Warriors), Ronan Michael (York City Knights), Robbie Mulhern (Warrington Wolves), Richie Myler (Leeds Rhinos), Dan Norman (St Helens), Brendan O'Hagan (York City Knights), Henry O'Kane (West Tigers), Harry Rushton (Huddersfield Giants), Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants), Louis Senior (Hull KR), Michael Ward (Batley Bulldogs)

Spine

Ireland is fairly limited on genuine fullback options, with Richie Myler almost a hands-down certainty to take the jersey throughout the tournament.

The Leeds Rhinos' 32-year-old can also play in the halves, but making his Ireland debut after eight previous Tests for England will almost certainly control things from the back during the tournament.

The other options to take over at fullback are all going to be needed in the outside backs.

Luke Keary's arrival to the Irish squad should see him line up at five-eighth, where he had an excellent second half of the NRL season, with regular halfback Joe Keyes to take the number seven jumper.

Keyes plays for the Halifax Panthers in the Championship but has previously played in the Super League.

Brendan O'Hagan out of the York City Knights will serve as the backup option in the halves for Ireland.

In the hooking position, Joshua Cook - who is yet to make his NRL debut, but has been touted as an excellent junior coming through the ranks for years - should take the lead with few other options in the squad.

James Bentley can fill in at number nine - and may find himself doing so from time to time - but he is needed in other positions.

Backs

The backline will see one of Ireland's best in James Bentley line up in the centres. This is a somewhat intriguing selection given he generally plays second row or lock for the Leeds Rhinos in the English Super League, however, in all five of his Tests for England, he has lined up in the centres and given a lack of options as well as team depth, he will do the same thing again here.

Two of the other three positions will be claimed by Louis and Innes Senior.

Innes, who will line up in the centres, plays for the Huddersfield Giants, while Louis plays for Hull KR. The twin brothers are both Super League players and should line up on the same side of the park, although have never played for Ireland at the age of 22. Ireland's qualifiers for the tournament came when the duo were aged just 19.

Ed Chamberlain from the Leigh Centurions is likely to take the remaining position on the other wing, although will have to battle teammate Keanan Brand. Toby King is the other option.

Forwards

The forward pack will be led out of the middle by young gun Wigan Warriors prop Liam Byrne. The 23-year-old has made four appearances for Ireland and will be one of the players to watch throughout the tournament.

He will be joined in the front row by the far more experienced Robbie Mulhern, who is preparing for a switch to the Leigh Centurions, but has played for Leeds, Hull KR and the Warrington Wolves previously.

Captain George King will round out the starting middle third by playing in the 13 jersey, as he has done on plenty of occasions previously for Ireland.

There is considerable backup in the middle third, with Jaimin Jolliffe and Dan Norman both capable of starting, while NSW Cup veteran James Hasson, Featherstone Rovers lock and prop Ben Mathiou and Michael Ward out of the Batley Bulldogs are also in the squad.

The edge is a far more simple selection prospect for Ireland, with Harry Rushton to take one position alongside Hull KR's Frankie Halton.

Rushton is an exciting talent and played for the Canberra Raiders up until the middle of this year before his immediate release to return home, while Halton has played two Tests for Ireland and progressed into the Super League this season where he has been a strong member of the Hull side.

James McDonnell, who can play centre as well as second row, is the leader of the backup brigade, while James Bentley, who we named in the centres, can also play in the second row.

Henry O'Kane has missed the 17, but will likely have an opportunity to impress at some point during the tournament as he prepares for a likely NRL debut in 2023 with the Tigers.

Bench

McDonnell, with his ability to play in the centres and the second row, should be the utility option on the bench. A strong performer for Wigan, he will likely allow Joshua Cook to have a break during games by taking Bentley's spot in the centres.

The remainder of the bench is likely to re-enforce the middle third, with Jolliffe, Norman and Hasson all fighting for minutes in Ireland's charge for the quarter-finals.

Ireland could yet use O'Kane from the bench as well, however, with Rushton and Halton both to play big minutes and moving parts around the team, coach Corcoran could be looking to steel his middle third for what will be a difficult challenge throughout the course of the tournament.

Best 17

1. Richie Myler
2. Louis Senior
3. Innes Senior
4. James Bentley
5. Ed Chamberlain
6. Luke Keary
7. Joe Keyes
8. Liam Byrne
9. Joshua Cook
10. Robbie Mulhern
11. Frankie Halton
12. Harry Rushton
13. George King (c)
14. James McDonnell
15. Jaimin Jolliffe
16. Dan Norman
17. James Hasson

Key information

Group: C
Coach: Ged Corcoran
Captain: George King
Number of World Cups: 4
Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals (2000, 2008)

Fixtures
Monday, October 17, 3:00am: vs Jamaica
Monday, October 24, 12:30am: vs Lebanon
Saturday, October 29, 5:30am: vs New Zealand

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