Iona McCusker has been called up to train with the Irish national team after impressing in London Broncos Ladies’ recent Betfred Super League South campaign.
The hooker, who only started her Rugby League career this year following the formation of the Broncos’ first ever ladies team, will travel to Wigan this weekend for the first of four international training sessions between now and the end of the season.
McCusker is eligible to represent Ireland through both sides of her family and described receiving the call-up as a great honour.
She said: “It’s been a whirlwind season from playing my first competitive Rugby League match to receiving the call-up to train with the Irish national team.
“I am grateful to John Whalley (Ireland Head Coach) for the opportunity and look forward to meeting the squad for the first time this weekend.”
McCusker first touched a rugby ball only three years ago when training with her local rugby union team while completing a placement year in Australia.
The sports therapist was seeking competitive opportunities when the Broncos announced it would field a team in the inaugural Women’s Super League South season. She admits 2021 has been a huge learning curve for her.
“From April until now has been one huge journey,” added McCusker. “Most of the girls in the Broncos camp were in the same boat.
“A few of the girls had watched Rugby League but not played it before. We worked together on correcting our mistakes and Colin Baker our Head Coach did an incredible job. We had to learn everything very quickly so to reach the play-offs was a great achievement.
“It was disappointing to lose our semi-final to Cardiff and we would of course love to play in the final, but on the whole it’s been a positive campaign.”
McCusker describes her strongest areas of play as being able to make quick decisions and reacting appropriately to what is happening on the field. She added: “I hope to bring a high degree of passion, enthusiasm and willingness to develop as an International player.”
John Whalley, Ireland Rugby League Women’s Head Coach, added: “I’ve watched Iona in the Super League South fixtures and have been really impressed with what she offers.
“She’s very lively around the ruck area, plays with her head up and is always looking for opportunities. I think she will be a really good addition for us.”