Richards Gives Irish Boost

Wigan's prolific winger Pat Richards has provided a timely lift for Ireland ahead of their pivotal rugbyleague.com European Cup pool two match against Wales at Pontypridd on Sunday.

Richards will make his first appearance for the Wolfhounds since the World Cup, where he was the joint third highest scorer, as they seek to clinch a place in the November 8 final.

Richards' return helps offset the loss of skipper Scott Grix with a hernia injury while Halifax three-quarter James Haley is a late addition and Oldham utility back Marcus St Hilaire is poised to make his debut.

"We're going to be without a few players but the players who will come are good enough to replace them," said coach Andy Kelly.

Wales expect skipper Ben Flower to shake off a knock he picked up in last Sunday's 88-8 win over Serbia in Smederova.

Ireland also racked up more than 80 points against the Serbians but a close contest is in prospect at Sardis Road.

"Ireland will be a different kettle of fish altogether," said Wales coach Iestyn Harris.

"They've got a lot of Super League players who will challenge us in every area and I expect it to be a difficult game.

"We've put a lot of work into this game and we were targeting it as it's the crunch game for us. It's almost like a semi-final. A win will put us into the final and obviously that's where we want to be."

The victors in Pontypridd will face the winners of tomorrow's pool one decider between Scotland and Lebanon in Glasgow. The final will be at Bridgend's Brewery Field tomorrow week.

Meanwhile, the make-up of the 2010 Four Nations series will be determined in Port Moresby tomorrow when Papua New Guinea meet Cook Islands in the final of the Pacific Cup.

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