Ireland, Wales call for more matches
The Ireland and Wales rugby league teams have called for more meaningful fixtures and a proactive player's union ahead to the next World Cup.
Ireland cruised to a 34-6 victory over Wales in their final pool game, but the post-match feeling was one of frustration and some anger at various issues that the international game needs to address.
Wales were beset by 10 withdrawals due to personal and injury reasons before the tournament. Ireland captain Liam Finn said he didn't take any pleasure in his team's big win on Sunday afternoon and he felt Wales were let down by some of their senior players.
"From John Kear and Wales' point of view, we don't take any pride or satisfaction in beating Wales by a decent scoreline," he said.
"They've been let down by a number of players I think that have pulled out late, and I really feel for Wales' camp, John Kear and all the staff.
"There is a gulf because certain players and certain clubs don't release the players from Super League and I don't particularly think it's good enough, and it's not good enough on those types of players, especially the ones who've got a leg up from the Welsh game."
Kear responded by acknowledging his comments but tried to make the best of his situation.
"Liam's a very gracious person and he's a very good lad," he said.
"I've known him for many years and it doesn't surprise me that he's reflected it in such a way. Obviously we're disappointed as a squad we didn't have a stronger squad. It is what it is. We've attempted to do the best we have with what we've got. Whether we've succeeded or not I don't know.
"Rather than getting involved in a slanging match with people, I'd rather just focus on what's happened, and say to the players who have represented their country or heritage of birth. They've worked extremely hard and have been respectful of themselves and the opposition, and the hosts."
Ireland coach Mark Aston says there needs to be more regular matches and a program in place if his side and other European nations want to challenge the likes of England in future.
"We've got to put a priority back into the international calendar," he said.
"We want to be playing against England and teams like that every single year."