Sydney Roosters star Luke Keary has become the next high-profile NRL player to declare their intentions for the World Cup, announcing that he will turn out for Ireland if injuries allow.
Keary was denied a chance to play at the 2017 World Cup by injury and has struggled with concussions this year, but said that all being well on that front, he would turn out in England at the end of the year.
“I stuck my hand up for them in 2017 and it didn’t eventuate because of a few things at the back end of the year, so we’ll just see how the next few weeks go,” he said.
“But I’ve told the people that I need to tell what my intentions are. We’ll see how we go.”
Keary is of Irish descent through his father and said that he had always felt a connection to Ireland since childhood.
“Dad’s family is still over there, he’s gone to visit,” said the five eighth. “I haven’t been over there but you just feel proud. When you talked about it as a kid you felt proud and it makes me feel good thinking about it.
“In 2017 I was no chance of playing for Australia but I wish I did play for Ireland in the World Cup, but I just didn’t get to. We’ll see where we get to in the next couple of months.”
Ireland were very unlucky in 2017, where a quirk of tournament formatting left them out despite winning two of their three games, including a stirring 36-12 win over James Tedesco’s Italy.
“They were so good, won two games and just missed the finals,” said Keary. “They probably should have got PNG over there. I’m keen to play and if I do get the chance, I’ll be super proud to put the jersey on.
“I think it’s going to be a great World Cup. So many great NRL players are putting their hands up for their nations of heritage and birth. It’s great for our game.”
Keary would be the most high-profile member of a squad that will feature plenty of NRL and Super League talent.
Jaimin Jolliffe of the Gold Coast Titans, Morgan Harper from Manly and Canberra’s Harry Rushton are expected to travel if injuries allow, and will join a raft of experienced operators from the UK competition.
Keary was not getting ahead of himself, but said that he was waiting until the season’s end before deep-diving.
“I haven’t thought too much,” said the Rooster. “I know the squad and roughly what’s going to happen, but a lot of things can happen. A lot of those players are going for England selection too that might miss out.
“I know Richie Myler’s there who’s a pretty experienced five eighth, but I haven’t thought about it that deeply yet to be honest. You don’t go there yet, you go there after.”