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Brett White sees Thomond clash as a springboard for Rugby League in Ireland

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 15:19 | Comments

Brett White insists Saturday's game against Australia will help rugby league to grow in Ireland
Brett White insists Saturday's game against Australia will help rugby league to grow in Ireland

Few of even the most optimistic Irish fans will be expecting their side to topple Australia in Saturday's World Cup match in Thomond Park but Brett White is looking at the bigger picture as he gets set to face a host of past and present team-mates.

The Canberra Raiders prop forward, who played for Australia in the 2009 Four Nations Series, qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather and sees himself as a pioneer as the Wolfhounds seek to make up ground on their rugby union cousins.

"I see my role as trying to build the brand of rugby league in Ireland," White said. "I think that's important.

"I think there's a fantastic future ahead for rugby league in Ireland and, if I can try and help to build that, I'll do my part."

White has led from the front on the field during Ireland's difficult start to the World Cup and, despite comprehensive defeats by Fiji and England, is relishing the experience.

"It's been fantastic, really enjoyable," White said.

"We've worked really hard actually. I guess what's surprised me in a way has been the amount of work we've been putting in. In saying that, we've needed to. We were in the toughest position of the tournament.

"That and the professionalism of the organisation has been fantastic. I'm really enjoying the experience."

White is expected to go up against his Canberra pack colleague Josh Papalii as well as several of his former team-mates from the Melbourne side that won the 2007 and 2009 Grand Finals when Ireland play their final Group A match at Thomond Park.

"I've played with or against most of them," he said. "A lot of those boys I played with in Melbourne.

"I know first hand the quality of players we're up against. We just want to try and be competitive and do our best.

"We have spoken a lot about the spirit and making sure we don't give up and we keep fighting through the whole game."

reland coach Mark Aston heaped praise on the 31-year-old for his bravery and leadership during the side's defeats by Fiji and England but White insists he is nothing more than a foot soldier.

"Most of these boys have played more Test-match footie than I have," he said.

"I have a bit of experience and, if the team can benefit from my input, then fantastic.

"But I am here to learn just as much. Like everyone. I will take a lot out of this camp."

White, who was forced to withdraw from Ireland's 2008 World Cup team due to injury, has been thrilled by the tournament so far.

"It's been great for rugby league world-wide, " he said. "It's been a fantastic spectacle so far with the crowds and the close games."

After playing in front of sell-out crowds in Rochdale and Huddersfield, Ireland are expecting a modest attendance of around 6,000 in the rugby union stronghold of Limerick for a match that is expected to produce a big victory for the Kangaroos.

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