Martyn & McCallion on leaving a legacy

Two legendary figures in Irish rugby league came into the Wolfhounds’ camp ahead of the first game of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 to present the team with their match shirts.

Ireland’s first-ever World Cup appearance back in 2000 was one to remember, making it to the quarterfinals after topping their group. In the squad was a skilful Thomas Lee Martyn, coming off the back of winning two Super League titles and looking to make his mark on the international stage. With a team bursting with talent, the Irish did just as Martyn reflects.

“It stirs up fantastic memories,” Tommy told

“I was driving over this morning and thinking of the first time I played for Ireland and there were a few of us who jumped in, Barrie McDermott and Jimmy (James) Lowes, people of that calibre. Thinking of the World Cup, thinking about what these boys in camp are experiencing in camp for the weeks ahead. Money can’t buy those memories; you make friends from all over the world for life, you just can’t buy that.

The 2000 and 2022 squads have similarities with plenty of players who have competed a high club level and have declared their intent to pull on the green jersey. Martyn hopes that a strong tournament can help develop rugby league in Ireland and that the talent pool for selection only gets bigger.

“We’re lucky to be able to bring in a world-class half in Luke Keary and there may be some players here who the Irish people have never heard of, but I am sure by the end of it there will be names people will remember for sure.

“For some of these lads, this is only the start and hopefully, this can kick on rugby league in Ireland, as well as players who are on the fence about whether to play for Ireland or not, believe me, back yourself and play for Ireland, it is something you will never ever regret.

“We know we’re battling the other code but if we can get people interested, unearth maybe a few new Brian Carneys you never know where we might end up. Hopefully, we do well, and people take note of Irish rugby league.”

Being able to be around the 2022 team and present the players with their shirts for the first match of the World Cup against Jamaica, Martyn sensed the strong team dynamic which has already been built.

“We’ve been with them and there seems to be a great rapport and banter between the boys, that is what it’s all about because you are a band of brothers, you’re going to be fighting and spilling blood for each other out there on the pitch. It certainly seems to be that way!”

A Rugby League Ireland Hall of Famer, Seamus McCallion was a physio in the 2000 Irish team and saw first-hand how special that tournament was for the sport of rugby league in Ireland.

“We had a great team then, and it seems like this team now (2022) is going to follow suit,” McCallion said strongly.

“Both Tommy and I have butterflies at the thought of presenting the team with their shirts because of what we’ve done for Ireland. The music has been blasting out whilst they’ve been training, it’s so exciting, boy I do miss this! I think they’re looking great and will do really well.

“You make friends for life, and hopefully we’ll see them make some history and that will never leave you.”

 Much like the 2000 team did, McCallion is hopeful that this current crop of Wolfhounds will leave a lasting legacy with their performances in the World Cup and that in another twenty years we will reflect on it as a big moment for Irish rugby league.

“Having spoken to Ged (Corcoran) and having seen a bit of camp where the atmosphere is fantastic, they are going about it in the right way, very professional and they want to do it. They want to leave their legacy and I think the Irish spirit they’re showing in abundance.”

 The men’s team of Rugby League Ireland begin their World Cup campaign on Sunday, 16th October at 5pm against Jamaica. Both McCallion and Martyn handed the players their jerseys ahead of the game, with several the players expected to make their senior Irish debut.

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