Wales chas­ing World Cup spot

Western Mail - - SPORT -

WALES and Ire­land go head-to-head at the Race­course Sta­dium in Wrex­ham to­mor­row (3pm) and the win­ner will qual­ify for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

The Dragons lost their open­ing Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship en­counter in France, but they re­sponded ex­cel­lently with a 50-12 vic­tory over Scot­land.

As Ire­land have also won one match, beat­ing the Scot­tish in round one, it makes the Race­course show­down a win­ner-takes-all con­test.

“Sun­day’s a mas­sive game for us,” Wales coach John Kear said. “We’re all aware of what the re­wards are.

“Re­gard­less of the re­wards for any game, you’ve got to go through the pro­cesses to earn that.

“We’ve been try­ing to em­pha­sise that the re­wards are great, but you’ve still got to do the or­di­nary things in rugby league in or­der to achieve them.

“We’ll be in and amongst it, but I’m fully aware of how good Ire­land are.

“There are four lads who I’ve coached a great deal and I’ll tell you they’re good play­ers.

“It’s a heck of a chal­lenge, but we’re fully aware of it and we can plan for that.

“If we go through pro­cesses in an ef­fi­cient man­ner, we’ll cer­tainly be in with half a chance.”

Kear, who has an ex­ten­sive coach­ing ca­reer at both in­ter­na­tional and club level, guided Wales to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship back in 2015.

And he ad­mits this has been the most en­joy­able year coach­ing his Wales side since then.

“I’m de­lighted with the squad,” Kear said.

“I feel re­ally re­vi­talised by the fact there are so many young men in this squad. They’re young men who are a very good stan­dard of rugby league player, but they’re also young men who will im­prove over the next cou­ple of years.

“That makes it ex­cit­ing hope­fully build­ing up to the next World Cup, but the im­me­di­acy is at­tempt­ing to get there and that’s no mean feat be­cause it’s a tough chal­lenge play­ing a very good Ire­land side.”

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