11th October 2017, 18:45
KEYES KEEN TO STEP UP IN WORLD CUP
As the curtain has been drawn on the 2017 league season, attentions now turn to the upcoming World Cup, and Joe Keyes is more than ready to step up to the International stage.
Keyes, sponsored by George Timberley, Amelia and Jayden Cuffe, was recently selected by Ireland Head Coach Mark Aston to be part of the Wolfhounds’ 2017 World Cup squad.
The half-back hit an impressive run of form in the final few months of the Championship season, as he became integral to Bradford during the Shield campaign. Now, the 22-year-old’s hard work has been rewarded with a call-up to Ireland’s World Cup squad.
“I’m very honoured. I’ve played for them for a couple of years now but never in a World Cup so now I have the opportunity to represent my family, which is a massive thing for me,” said Keyes.
“I’m nervous and excited, I’ve never done a major tournament before so it is all quite exciting and new to me. I met all of the boys for the first time last week, they are a great set of people and I can’t wait to get out onto the field with them.”
Travelling to Australia this weekend, Keyes is preparing for one of his most challenging moments of his career as Ireland face Italy on the 29th October in their first game of the tournament.
“You want to do the same as you do for your club and do your best every time you can but there is just that added bit of intensity in the international game. With both sets of players representing their country, everyone wants to put in 100% but there is always that little bit more pressure for your country.
“I think the group Ireland were in last time was pretty tough looking back, with England, Australia and Fiji, but let’s not take anything away from the group this year, our goal is to get out of the group and make our way to the finals. That is the standard that we want to set and hopefully that we can push for this year.”
As the season drew to a close and thoughts of selection crept into the minds of Head Coaches, Keyes put himself in good stead after his man of the match performance against Sheffield Eagles, in front of Ireland and Sheffield Head Coach, Aston.
“I was pleased with my performance against Sheffield and I think I finished the season well so perhaps that put me in good stead to be selected for the side.”
The Bradford half-back will take to the field with a plethora of experienced Super League players such as Liam Finn, Brad Singleton and Scott Grix. He hopes to learn as much as possible from his time with the international side to bring back home.
“The team is full of some very big names who play in big games every week so I will be picking their brains and learning off them. The likes of Liam Finn who is an experience half-back at this level, is someone I can’t wait to learn from.”