OLDHAM prop Joe Burke moved a step nearer to realising his ambition of playing for Wales in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in the southern hemisphere when helping John Kear’s men to beat Italy 20-14 in Monza on Saturday.
A substitute, Burke suffered a smashed nose, but returned to the field after treatment as Wales scored 14 unanswered points to qualify for the trip Down Under next autumn.
Ireland, and Will Hope, also booked their World Cup ticket with a 70-16 win against Russia in Bray, which means that England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales will all compete in the 14-club tournament.
The one remaining place will go to Italy or Russia, who go head to head at Leigh Sports Village on Friday, with Richard Lepori hoping to retain his place on Italy’s left wing.
Burke has signed a new contract with Oldham for 2017, but Hope and Lepori, who may be returning to university, have been released.
Oldham, meanwhile, have responded to weekend reports that they are one of five clubs facing winding-up orders because of outstanding HMRC debts.
Sheffield, Salford, Featherstone and Bradford are reported to be facing similar orders, but Roughyeds say their arrears of approximately £2,500 were paid off months ago.