15 Oct 2022
Pride as World Cup becomes reality for Ireland's Corcoran and Jamaica's Monteith
World Cup newcomers Jamaica prepare to make their debut against confident Ireland at Headingley
By Megan Armitage
Ged Corcoran is confident his team’s Irish roots are sturdy enough to defeat Jamaica in their Rugby League World Cup clash on Sunday.
The 39-year-old from County Offaly is the team's first ever Irish-born head coach, rising through the ranks over a decade to become an integral member of staff.
And he admits he's pinching himself as he prepares to watch his squad begin their campaign against the Reggae Warriors at Headingley Stadium.
"We've got to be cautious and respectful to Jamaica," he said. "They are a real good bunch and we will definitely be on task come the game.
"We've had some good prep leading up to this game so I'm confident on what we will do on Sunday.
"And for me to be living in the shadows as an assistant for such a long time and learning the trade and understanding, there's no disbelief that I've assembled this team over the past ten years.
"It's me that’s gone and met the players and got the documents cleared and then started the process.
"So finally stepping up as the head coach has been an easy process, I have the belief of the boys.
"It's getting the team to understand their culture and where they're from. When you look at the map as to where each player is actually from, we're closer to home than we think.
"Some players might live on the other side of the world now, but their bloodlines have all crossed paths in Ireland."
When Jamaica step onto the pitch on Sunday, it will mark the first appearance of the world number 21 ranked side at this level.
The team song has been written by 'Reggae Reggae Sauce' founder Levi Roots but the inspiration for this campaign is undoubtably coach Romeo Monteith.
For nearly two decades, unheralded and unpaid, he has worked to build the sport in the Caribbean, with the first of only 25 internationals played just 13 years ago.
Huddersfield Giants captain Michael Lawrence and team-mates Ashton Golding and Kieran Rush are the squad's only Super League players but there are six Jamaica-based players in the 23-man team.
"Ireland is a massive task, we know how good their squad is but we think we can make this a competitive game," said Monteith, whose side secured qualification with wins over Canada and the USA.
"This has been a long project and it's a thrill for all those who have been involved for some time. We've dreamed about this moment for a long time and now it's a reality."
Golding claims the one year delay to the tournament, due to the pandemic, has given the team more valuable time to make their big stage bow - but refuses to be drawn on ambitions for their other Group C encounters with Lebanon and world number one New Zealand.
“We have set them within our bubble," he said. "We know where we feel we’re at and where we’d be proud to get to. Ultimately, that means we’ve got to win some games and to do that, we’ll have to put in some good performances. We’ve got our own targets so we’ll see if we can get them.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets