Irish eye Super League
RLI hope to build a club capable of competing with the elite
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: 01/05/11 4:32pm
Rugby League Ireland have a five-year plan in place aimed towards entering a club into the engage Super League.
A temporary scouting academy took place in Limerick on Saturday, with coaches from English clubs St Helens and Wigan eyeing up Irish talent.
Players from Ulster, Munster and Leinster took part in fitness testing, interviews and a training match with high hopes of earning a professional offer from across the water, or beyond.
Gordon Matthews, general manager of RLI, believes breaking more Irish players into Super League is just the beginning and he dreams of hosting glamorous games in Limerick.
"Within five years we hope to have a Super League team in Ireland with high-profile games being played at venues such as Thomond Park."
Gordon Matthews Quotes of the week
"Rugby League has been growing significantly in this country in recent years and the idea of this academy weekend in Limerick is to give players of high ability an opportunity to sign with some of the top clubs," said Matthews.
"We have been encouraged by the response in this week. Within five years we hope to have a Super League team in Ireland with high-profile games being played at venues such as Thomond Park."
Treaty City Titans back-row forward and Ireland rugby league international Brendan Guilfoyle was one of the hopefuls being scouted.
He said: "There are a lot of benefits and this academy provides an exciting opportunity for young players who wish to further their careers."
The Ireland national side, known as the Wolfhounds, are one of 14 countries set to compete at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and have recently climbed two places up to seventh in the RLIF World Rankings.
A total of 20 rugby league clubs are registered across three of the four provinces, with Connacht the exception, and the RLI hope a summer league can entice more union players to try their hand at the 13-man version of the game.