AP – Not even the most one-eyed Irish fan will be expecting the Wolfhounds to topple Australia at the Rugby League World Cup, but Brett White is looking at the bigger picture as he prepares face a host of familiar faces.
The Canberra prop, who played three times for Australia in the 2009 Four Nations Series, qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather and sees himself as a pioneer as the Wolfhounds try to make up ground on their rugby union cousins.
“I see my role as trying to build the brand of rugby league in Ireland,” White said.
“I think that’s important.
“I think there’s a fantastic future ahead for rugby league in Ireland and, if I can try and help to build that, I’ll do my part.”
White has led from the front on the field during Ireland’s difficult start to the World Cup and, despite comprehensive defeats by Fiji and England, is relishing the experience.
“It’s been fantastic, really enjoyable,” White said.
“We’ve worked really hard actually. I guess what’s surprised me in a way has been the amount of work we’ve been putting in.
“In saying that, we’ve needed to. We were in the toughest position of the tournament.
“That and the professionalism of the organisation has been fantastic. I’m really enjoying the experience.”
White will face former Melbourne teammates including Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in Saturday’s Group A match at Thomond Park.
“I’ve played with or against most of them,” he said.
“A lot of those boys I played with in Melbourne.
“I know first hand the quality of players we’re up against. We just want to try and be competitive and do our best.”
Ireland coach Mark Aston heaped praise on the 31-year-old for his bravery and leadership during the side’s crushing defeats by Fiji and England, but White insists he is nothing more than a foot soldier.
“Most of these boys have played more Test-match footy than I have,” he said.
“I have a bit of experience and, if the team can benefit from my input, then fantastic.
“But I am here to learn just as much. Like everyone. I will take a lot out of this camp.”