The World Cup is here and Ireland kick off their campaign against Italy at Barlow Park in Cairns.
Both sides failed to make it out of their respective groups with Ireland finishing last in their group. Meanwhile Italy lost to Tonga in their final group game to miss out on a spot in the quarter finals.
A win for either side would put them closer to the quarter finals and with just one side qualifying from the group it’s an all or nothing battle.
Ireland’s last game was last year when they defeated Russia in a World Cup qualifier 70-16. Italy’s qualifying campaign came down to all or nothing game against the same opposition with the Azzure running out 70-0 victors.
Mark Aston, head coach of Ireland has urged his side to play with a smile on their face despite having just nine days in Australia.
“That’s part of the motivation for us. It keeps our feet on the ground and enables us to say look, nobody gives us a chance of being successful because they make it difficult for us,” said Aston.
“Nobody is going to get rich playing for Ireland. They know that from minute one. That makes us stronger as a group. They’re playing for pride and the passion that we have all put into this.”
Meanwhile Italy captain Mark Minichellio is hoping to guide his side to a quarter final spot.
“This year we’re going to make sure we put our best foot forward on the field. I’d love to be playing in a quarter-final in the Italian jersey,” answered Minichellio.
Two players that will be key to both side’s chances are captains Liam Finn and Mark Minichellio.
Finn helped Wakefield to a fifth place finish in Super League. The half back will be captaining Ireland at a world cup for the second time.
Meanwhile Minichellio was a crucial part of the Hull FC side that lifted the Challenge Cup for the second year in succession.
The second rower is the most experienced player in the Italy line up will be able to push through the Ireland defence with ease.
Ireland v Italy at Barlow Park, Cairns, 3pm (AEDT)
Ireland 21-man squad: 1 Scott Grix, 2 Shannon McDonnell, 3 Ed Chamberlain, 4 Centre Michael MORGAN, 5 Wing Liam Kay, 6 Api Pewhairangi, 7 Liam Finn (c), 8 Brad Singleton, 9 Michael McIlorum, 10 Kyle Amor, 11 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 12 Oliver Roberts, 13 George King, 14 Tyrone MCCARTHY, 15 James HASSON, 16 Joe Philbin, 17 Anthony Mullally, 18 Joe Keyes, 19 Will Hope, 20 Jack Higginson, 21 Matty Hadden
Italy 21-man squad: 1 James TEDESCO, 2 Mason CERRUTO, 3 Justin CASTELLARO, 4 Nathan MILONE, 5 Josh MANTELLATO, 6 Terry CAMPESE, 7 Jack JOHNS, 8 Paul VAUGHAN, 9 Ryan GHIETTI, 10 Daniel ALVARO, 11 Joel RIETHMULLER, 12 Mark MINICHIELLO (c), 13 Nathan BROWN, 14 Colin WILKIE, 15 Brendan SANTI, 16 Shannon WAKEMAN, 17 Jayden WALKER, 18 Christophe CALEGRI, 19 Christopher CENTRONE, 20 Joe TRAMONTANA, 21 Gavin HISCOX
Referees: Grant Atkins;Sideline Officials: Liam Moore, Robert Hicks;Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;