Iona McCusker has capped off a whirlwind five months by receiving a call-up to represent Ireland in the country’s first ever women’s test match against Wales next month.
The Broncos Ladies hooker, who only started her Rugby League career in May, has been named in John Whalley’s 24-player squad to face Wales at Stadiwm Zip World on October 17.
McCusker has been training with Ireland’s UK-based players since August but will now link up with those from across the Irish Sea who represent teams including Dublin City Exiles and Galway Tribeswomen.
A sports therapist by trade, McCusker said she was “absolutely buzzing” when she learnt the news.
“I was so excited,” she said. “It’s been an amazing year and every person who has been part of my journey – teammates, coaches and the backroom staff – have been a huge part of it.
“It’s going to be a historic game for women’s Rugby League and to be part of Ireland’s first ever international test match is going to be amazing. We had our first training session together at the weekend after previously splitting training between UK and Irish-based players.
“It was great to see everyone, and we have another session scheduled between now and the match. Hopefully we can deliver a positive result and inspire a new generation of Rugby League players.”
Broncos Ladies coach Colin Baker was equally pleased to learn about McCusker’s call-up and said her hard work and determination both in training and during matches has paid off.
He added: “Iona has had an almost meteoric rise in Rugby League, she is relatively new to the sport but has adapted well.
“She works hard and deserves this fantastic opportunity. She was a key member of the Broncos Ladies team this season and we wish her the best of luck with the Ireland squad.”
Updates from Ireland Ladies’ training camp and matches will be available via @IrelandRL on Twitter.