Ireland coach Mark Aston has publicly thanked Canberra Raiders prop Brett White for his bravery during Ireland’s difficult World Cup campaign.
White was singled out by Aston for his part in the side’s opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji, while he lavished praise on the former Kangaroo for defying an early head knock to lead their challenge in Saturday’s 42-0 loss to England.
“He went back on but it was probably tougher for him to come off in the first place,” Aston said after the defeat which effectively ended Ireland’s hopes of qualification from the toughest group.
“He didn’t want to come off.
“He’d have stayed out there if we had let him.”
White, who qualifies through his Irish grandfather, was one of four NRL players recruited by Aston.
“He’s a champion,” Aston said.
“He’s certainly come over here and set the tone for us.
“The nice thing is that he’s mixing with the younger guys and giving them the experience he’s had.
“I know he’s helped (captain) Liam (Finn) really well. He just speaks sense and gets his point across.
“There’s nobody more disappointed than him at the moment. He wants to win every single game. That will rub off.
“And over the years we’ll build the culture that we want in Ireland and hopefully take it on to another level.”
The 31-year-old had put his hand up to play for Andy Kelly’s team in the 2008 World Cup but was ruled out by a foot injury.
He went on to play for the Kangaroos in the 2009 Four Nations Series and was in the team that beat England 46-16 in the final at Elland Road.
White is now set to face his fellow countrymen, including his Canberra teammate Josh Papalii, as Ireland prepare for their final group game against Australia in Limerick on Saturday night.
Aston’s men will need to pull off one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time if they are to topple the tournament favourites but captain Liam Finn insists his players will play with pride when they run out at Thomond Park.
“That 20-minute purple patch by England killed the game off but you’ve seen 17 blokes out there have a dig,” Finn said.
“They put plenty of pride in the shirt and that’s all we’ve asked for from day one.
“If we do that (against Australia), we’ll walk away from the tournament happy with ourselves.”