Former England prop Stuart Fielden has switched his allegiance to Ireland for the World Cup, according to Ireland coach Mark Aston.
The 33-year-old Fielden, who won the last of his eight caps for England against Australia in the 2010 Four Nations Series, is set to play against England in the second round of group matches at his home ground, Huddersfield, on November 2.
“Stuart has committed to the cause and will bring vast experience from playing at the highest level,” Aston said.
“There will be certain instances in the World Cup when he will be massive for us and he will add the steel and presence that we want at that level.
“I’m highly delighted that he’ll be with us.”
Fielden, who also won 25 caps for Great Britain during his time at Bradford and Wigan, is currently sidelined with a knee injury but is expected back well before the end of the Super League season.
Aston, the Sheffield Eagles coach who has succeeded Andy Kelly as Ireland boss, has also revealed that Warrington’s highly-rated second rower Ben Currie has opted for Ireland ahead of England.
And he will be joined in the Irish ranks by a host of leading Super League stars, including Pat Richards (Wigan), brothers Scott and Simon Grix (Huddersfield and Warrington respectively), Damien Blanch (Catalan Dragons) and Shannon McDonnell (Hull).
“Ben Currie is a big one for us – he has a massive future in the game,” Aston said.
“I watched him with great interest in the recent match against Wigan and one of the passes he put out showed exactly the kind of vision and decision making that I love.
“He’s big and strong as well and we’re delighted he’s pledged his allegiance to Ireland.”
Dave Allen (Widnes) and Warrington trio Chris Bridge, Ben Harrison and Gareth O’Brien are among other Super League players that will be included in Ireland’s initial squad, which will be captained by Featherstone scrum-half Liam Finn.
Australia and Fiji are the other teams in group A, with three to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals.