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We've still got a chance - Aston


Pat Richards - set for an emotional time

Pat Richards - set for an emotional time

Pat Richards - set for an emotional time

Mark Aston is refusing to admit his Ireland side are facing up to an impossible mission in the World Cup, despite everything pointing to the contrary.

The Wolfhounds have lost their two Group A matches to England and Fiji at the expense of 74 points and only a win in their final clash on Saturday can give them a chance of making the quarter-finals.

But that game is against unanimous tournament favourites Australia and should Ireland win, it would stake a claim for being the greatest upset the sport has seen.

Aston is no stranger to such shocks - he was man of the match when Sheffield stunned Wigan in the 1998 Challenge Cup Final - and he is encouraging his charges to adopt a no-fear attitude at Thomond Park.

"Dream the dream and live it," Aston said of his outlook at Ireland's captain's run on Friday.

"For the last three weeks we've been dreaming it and now it's time to live it. It isn't all over, people are saying we're going home on Sunday. We've still got a chance and while there's a chance you have to grasp it and I have told the boys that.

"They've been good this week because they've been down. They're buzzing, hyper and ready to play and it's a good time to put a statement out about Irish rugby league."

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That statement carries a risk and reward factor. A strong showing in the backyard of Munster - the two-time Heineken Cup winners who are tantamount to a religion in Limerick - would win new admirers, while a heavy loss would feed those in Ireland who only recognise the 15-a-side code.

"Limerick is all about Munster and people walk into this stadium, week in, week out. Every bar, coffee shop and hotel has something about Munster in it," Aston said.

"This is a massive step and we're trying to grow the game in Ireland and there's no better facility than the one here. There's a legacy and we're desperate to put on a massive performance and hopefully people will buy into it. We're not just here for the short-term, we're here to develop it."

Australia have been at pains to point out they are not taking the Wolfhounds lightly, with assistant coach David Furner highlighting positives he has seen in their campaign.

They lost 42-0 to England last week but were better as the game went on and Aston wants to continue that trajectory.

"We're really looking forward to it because it's a massive challenge for us playing against the world's best in a great facility," he added.

"We're up for it because we feel we've let ourselves down a little bit over recent weeks and want to put it right. We are going to ask the question and see what they dish up for us.

"As a player and coach you want to challenge yourself against the best and that's what we've spoken about. I told the players they will know where they're at after this competition but this is the big stage and I get a buzz out of that and the players should too.

"It's not easy and if we can come out of it loud and proud with the Irish people behind us, we'll be happy."

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