Rugby League Ireland have sown the seeds for a potential entry into Super League within the next five years with a scouting academy in Limerick this weekend.
Players from all four provinces took part in fitness testing, interviews and a game watched by coaches from top Super League clubs including St Helens and Wigan.
“Rugby League has been growing significantly in this country in recent years and the idea of this academy weekend in Limerick is to give players of high ability an opportunity to sign with some of the top clubs,” Gordon Matthews, general manager of Rugby League Ireland (RLI) said.
“We have been encouraged by the response in this week. Within five years we hope to have a Super League team in Ireland with high-profile games being played at venues such as Thomond Park.”
RLI are building for the 2013 World Cup and believe by playing in the summer they can accommodate rugby union players interested in trying their hand at the 13-man code.
Young Munster back-row forward and Ireland rugby league international Brendan Guilfoyle said: “There are a lot of benefits and this academy provides an exciting opportunity for young players who wish to further their careers.”
RLI have 20 clubs throughout the 32 counties and their three-provincial league season runs over 14 weeks.