IRELAND head coach Mark Aston has appointed his former team-mate Ryan Sheridan as his assistant coach.
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The pair, who were players at Sheffield Eagles in the mid-1990s, will be in charge when Ireland face the England Knights this weekend.
Aston said: “I’m highly delighted that Ryan has accepted an offer to become involved with the Ireland coaching team as my assistant coach. It renews the relationship that Ryan and I have had over a lot of years.
“Ryan was a great player and he’s developed into a quality coach who will add a lot to the Ireland set-up.”
Sheridan played for Ireland in the 2000 World Cup and is currently assistant coach to another former Sheffield player Daryl Powell at Co-operative Championship club Featherstone Rovers.
Aston, head coach at Sheffield Eagles, has been working without an assistant since being appointed to the Ireland job mid-way through last season. The decision making process included consulting Powell and Ireland captain and Featherstone player Liam Finn.
“I’ve taken a bit of time deciding who to appoint (as assistant coach). I wanted to see what I wanted and to assess the feedback I’ve been getting,” said Aston. “Without doubt Ryan is the man for the job.
“I spoke to Daryl (Powell) and he’s happy to give Ryan an opportunity to go out into the international arena. Daryl holds Ryan in a very high regard.
“Liam Finn is very close to Ryan and he’s worked with him at Featherstone. I felt it was time to get Ryan nailed down as we start preparing the internationals at the end of the season and then the World Cup.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ryan from this weekend. We’ve had a couple of meetings and we’re singing off the same hymn sheet. He has so much to give to the squad. Remember Ryan played for Ireland and is very passionate about that.”
Sheridan is the latest addition to a backroom team that draws heavily on people Aston has worked with at Sheffield Eagles.
Former Eagles’ players Ged Corcoran and Carl De Chenu are involved taking charge of the Ireland A squad and the Ireland Students respectively.
Aston said: “Ryan will be part of a coaching panel with Ged Corcoran and Carl De Chenu – I’ve got a group who will be heavily involved in taking Ireland forward.
“We’re trying to develop coaches and both Carl and Ged will have support from domestic coaches in Ireland and that’s the way we want to develop the game and the players in Ireland.
“It’s exciting times ahead for Rugby League Ireland.”
Ireland will play the England Knights squad before the England v Exiles game at Langtree Park Stadium, St Helens, on Saturday 16 July. The Ireland game kicks-off at 4.15pm