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Mendeika sets sights on semi finals with Ireland
10:20am Monday 28th October 2013 in News
WARRINGTON'S James Mendeika feels that his Ireland side has got what it takes to reach the semi-finals of Rugby League World Cup 2013 and go one better than their last World Cup outing, starting against Fiji at Spotland, Rochdale, tonight (8pm).
Drawn in Group A with Fiji, England and Australia, the centre has highlighted the importance of a strong start to the tournament and believes that Ireland's preparations – they were one of four nations to skip a warm-up match – have been more than beneficial.
“I think we all know what Fiji bring,” said Mendeika, a former junior with Rylands Sharks who spent most of this year on dual registration with Swinton Lions from Warrington Wolves.
“They will bring athletes, but they have also got a lot of skill in their backline. I feel that we have also got a lot of skill, brawn and speed though.
“The first game is always vital but being in a group with England and Australia where we play them after Fiji does make the first game more important.
“The Fiji game is obviously the priority, but we have been preparing our set-up in training for our game in general, so we will be in a better position when the Australia and England games come around.
“But if the result doesn’t go our way, we won’t be counting ourselves out. We will still have a chance. We are all feeling really confident and positive.
“If anything, we have probably benefited from not playing last week. It has allowed our training to be more intense. We have had double sessions and we have been able to focus on other things.
“If we had played a game then you have got to prepare for that game and then recover afterwards. This way we have been able to focus solely on the World Cup games.”
After a number of upsets in the warm-up matches, Mendeika, who was leading try scorer at Swinton, does not buy into the importance of the warm-up games, and would rather hope for Irish success at the World Cup.
“I am not sure winning a warm-up game means much to the smaller teams,” said Mendeika, who has signed for Featherstone Rovers next year.
“But I think it acts as a reminder to the bigger nations that we’re all going to be competitive.
“I think it makes things more exciting for the fans, definitely. It reminds them that there aren’t going to be any easy wins and that every game will be competitive.
“There have been a lot of changes within the squad and the staff since 2008 but having seen how we did in 2008 we are looking to match that at least, if not go one better.
“We got to a certain point five years ago so there is no reason why we can’t do it again.”
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