Wigan winger Brian Carney has called for Ireland to be included in the proposed 2008 World Cup as a stand-alone nation after Monday�s announcement that a tournament will be held to celebrate the centenary of the game in Australia.
Carney made a sensational debut for the Great Britain & Ireland Test team in the 2003 Ashes series but he is desperate to wear the green of Ireland when the World Cup makes a welcome comeback in four years time.
�I think having Ireland involved as a separate entity has to be the best way forward,� said the Wicklow-born three-quarter. �Having an Irish team involved in any World Cup creates a great atmosphere � and that�ll be no different in rugby league.�
The game�s governing body, Rugby League Ireland (RLI), has already begun making preparations for the next World Cup and will stage a special St Patrick�s Day dinner, in association with 1895 International, at Huddersfield�s historic George Hotel on Saturday 20 March in order to generate much-needed funds for both the international team and the country�s new domestic league, which is set to launch this summer.
The event is vital to RLI�s long-term development plans and Carney has urged British-based followers of the sport to throw their support behind the initiative. He continued: �The game here is strong at the moment and therefore it would be fantastic if the second and third generation Irish people in the UK got behind what we�re doing in order to help the game take off back home.
�The more people who get behind the organisation and events like this, the stronger the voice we will have and the more progress we will be able to make back home.�
Carney�s call has been supported by RLI chairman Dave Southern, who has stressed that his organisation is eager to work alongside the Rugby League International Federation in order to make Ireland�s World Cup dream a reality.
�Hopefully we�ll be able to sit down with the authorities and show them our development plans and fundraising strategies,� said Southern. �We want to take this on as a project and I�m sure they will be happy to support us.�
Tickets for the RLI/1895 International St Patrick�s Day Dinner are available for �35 each. Guests will also be able to take advantage of a special room rate of �50 (based on two people sharing a double room) at the George Hotel.
For further information call 01484 483 154 or email [email protected]