2017 Rugby League World Cup - Ireland vs Italy Preview

The Lowdown

IRELAND

  • Ireland boast plenty of talent in their side with several familiar Super League names hoping to give them the platform to be competitive in their group.
  • Mark Aston's 17 looks like it could compete on paper with the pack in particular looking strong. Leeds' Brad Singleton is joined by Saints pair Kyle Amor and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook as well as Wigan hooker Michael McIlorum.
  • Ireland don't look quite as strong in the backs but still boast several talented players with New Zealand born Api Pewhairangi hoping to form a good partnership with the experienced Liam Finn.

Head Coach: Mark Aston

Team: Grix; McDonnell, Chamberlain, Morgan, Kay; Pewhairangi, Finn; Singleton, McIlorum, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Roberts, King

Bench: McCarthy, Hasson, Philbin, Mullally

ITALY

  • Following a strong showing in the 2013 World Cup that included a win over Wales, Italy head into the World Cup with an intriguing looking squad.
  • Captain Mark Minichiello will lead a side that has bags of experience as well as some raw talent that could prove to be a good mix when they get their campaign underway.
  • James Tedesco is their star man and he will be out to impress following his superb State of Origin debut earlier in the year and will feel he has a point to prove having been overlooked by Australia.

Head Coach: Cameron Ciraldo

Team: Tedesco; Cerruto, Castellaro, Milone, Mantellato; Campese, Johns; Vaughan, Ghietti, Alvaro, Riethmuller, Minichiello, Brown

Bench: Wilkie, Santi, Wakeman, Walker

Analysis - what to expect
Italy come into this game with a 13.5 handicap advantage according to the bookies but given the quality of this Irish team, they may be able to keep this match within that figure. The Irish have plenty of size and experience in their camp with the likes of Amor, Singleton, Finn and McCarthy-Scarsbrook able to compete with the best so this could easily be one of the more competitive games in the opening round of matches despite what the bookies may think.