Following on from the recent signing with Super League giants St Helens, of Ireland ‘A’ Internationals Aaron McCloskey and Ian Cross, Rugby League Ireland received another boost today when fellow ‘A’ International William Stewart commenced a two week trial period with Harlequins Rugby League in London. Ballyclare native William Stewart, 23, a centre/wing plays his domestic Rugby League with Ballynahinch Rabbitohs and has also played Rugby Union with Belfast Harlequins. He is hoping this trial with the Super League club will allow him secure a full time Rugby League contract as was the case with his Irish teammates.
He was one of 24 young players (along with McCloskey & Cross) who attended Rugby League Ireland’s inaugural Talent Identification Academy that took place in Limerick this May. The Academy was the brainchild of Brendan Guilfoyle, Development Manager, Rugby League Ireland and was part of the governing body’s efforts to continue to grow the game nationally and improve the Ireland international team ahead of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, by offering young rugby stars a means of showcasing their talent to Super League coaches.
The Academy has been a resounding success with four players receiving lengthy trials with Super League club with two securing full time contracts to date, in addition to receiving Ireland ‘A’ Caps in recent internationals with Scotland. Stewart, McCloskey & Cross will now be hoping to get the call, to make the step up to full International Status for Ireland’s glamour matches with Samoa & France in Thomond Park later this year.