O'Connor leads Irish challenge

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The Independent Online

Terry O'Connor is Ireland's choice as captain for theirWorld Cup campaign, writes Dave Hadfield.

Terry O'Connor is Ireland's choice as captain for theirWorld Cup campaign, writes Dave Hadfield.

Wigan's in-form prop, who has been part of the Irish squad since it re-formed in 1996, steps up to lead them in the absence of the previous captain, Martin Crompton, who has missed most of the season throughinjury, and James Lowes, who has ruled himself out in order to have a knee operation.

The new captain received a vote of confidence from his club coach, Frank Endacott, who is also in charge of the New Zealand side in the tournament.

"He'll lead by example," Endacott said. "He's got a nice way about him, has Terry. He'll get the spirit right and bring them together."

Apart from O'Connor, the Irish include six other players who have represented Great Britain, all of whom qualify through parents or grandparents. There are eight Australians in the squad, one of whom - Hull's goal-kicking winger, Ian Herron - was born in Belfast, where Ireland play the opening game of the tournament against Samoa on 28 October.

The Wigan winger Brett Dallas who was in Australia's World Cup-winning side in 1995, is to return against StHelens tomorrow night. It is a big match in which to make a comeback after an 11-week absence with a broken jaw, but Endacott said: "He's played in bigger. There was never any doubt that he would come straight back in. Hisexperience will see him through."

Steve Renouf is also fit, with Wes Davies and David Hodgson dropping out, and Endacott also predicted that Saints will be at full strength.

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