2021 Rugby League World Cup

Ireland will be out to spring one of the biggest World Cup upsets of all time to keep their quarter-final dream alive when they face New Zealand in Leeds.

Ireland’s disappointing 32-14 loss to Lebanon in Leigh on Sunday means they must beat the Kiwis to progress further in the tournament.

With the Cedars expected to make mince meat out of Jamaica, only victory over the number one ranked team in the world will do for the Irish at Headingley on Friday night.

They will have to do it without prop Liam Byrne, who has been suspended after the spiteful match against Lebanon.

The Wolfhounds failed to control their discipline at the Leigh Sports Village and were defensively exposed by Michael Cheika’s outfit.

They will rely heavily on Luke Keary and Richie Myler to spark some magic against New Zealand.

The Kiwis have looked ominous at the tournament and will be ready to clinch the top spot in Group C, and a likely quarter-final date with Fiji.

Michael Maguire’s men have already beaten Lebanon 34-12 and thrashed Jamaica 68-6.

Maguire is expected to rotate his squad with Jahrome Hughes coming back into the side.

Kieran Foran or Joey Manu could make way for the Melbourne Storm star.

Ireland and New Zealand have never met in a test or World Cup match before.

John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.