A Wasted Year For Ireland Wing Roland Podesta?

Waste?

This year should have been a breakthrough year for Roland Podesta. But 2020 has been a near write-off for the Ireland Rugby League team winger.

Having made his NRL debut for Manly Sea Eagles in 2019, Podesta came to the attention of Ireland’s selection committee and was part of the team that played in the 2019 Rugby League European play-off tournament.

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The youngster played his part in a successful campaign that saw Stuart Littler’s side book their spot in 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England in October and November next year.

Podesta brought his undoubted abilities from Australia to Spain, where the Rugby League European play-off tournament was played and contributed in victories over Spain and Italy to secure a place at the finals.

The young wing scored a try on his debut in Ireland’s emphatic 42-8 win over Spain and kicked four conversions from as many attempts in the 25-4 victory over Italy that sealed progression to the finals.

That should have been the start of big things for Podesta, who had already gained NRL experience during the 2019 season when making his debut as a teenager for Manly. But 2020 has been something of a write off for the talented young winger.

Podesta didn’t make an appearance for Manly during a disrupted NRL campaign that was halted for the coronavirus pandemic before resuming later in the Australian winter. Manly missed the finals and Podesta didn’t get to show his skills in the toughest rugby league competition in the world.

The young talent didn’t get to further his education in the game either in what Australians call grade footy.

If not under consideration for the Sea Eagles, Podesta should have been playing in Manly’s second-string side in the NSW Canterbury Cup, essentially the reserve league in which younger players make the breakthrough to NRL level.

But he was denied the opportunity to perfect his art with the entire competition being scrapped in 2020 due to coronavirus. While the elite NRL action could continue with bubbles and testing, it was too much of a stretch to save the Canterbury Cup although Australian tipsters are expecting good things from Podesta in the near future and 2021 should be the year where he can gain valuable playing experience at the top level and push his career on.

That has left Podesta without any major level action in 2020 and the year has been something of a waste for Ireland’s star. Where he should have been gaining experience to stand him in good stead to face the biggest names at the World Cup, he has been left without any game time action.

It is expected that he will feature in 2021 ahead of the World Cup to press his claims for inclusion in Littler’s squad for the finals. But after the highs of helping Ireland to the finals, 2020 has not been the year Podesta might have hoped for.