FORMER Bulls prop Phil Joseph is hoping to end his career on a high by helping Wales to a first World Cup victory for 17 years.

The much-travelled forward is hanging up his boots at the end of the season, which will be when Wales bow out of the World Cup in Australia.

The 32-year-old, who is vice-captain of John Kear's team, is hoping that will be during the knockout stages, but knows it will mean topping their group which includes Papua New Guinea and Ireland.

The Welsh, who failed to qualify for the 2008 World Cup and lost all their matches in 2013, also face a daunting inter-group duel with star-studded Fiji but Joseph says the players are relishing the challenge.

"It's a very exciting group," he said. "It's going to be tough but we've got a good group of boys who work hard for each other.

"Anything can happen on the day, the bounce of the ball or anything, but we're here to compete. We're not a team that is going to roll over and die. We've got goals and aspirations that we'd like to tick off. That's our mindset going forward.

"We've got to win every game but we'll take it one at a time. First up it's PNG and we know what's expected from them. We're going to have to meet fire with fire."

Wales will go into their opening game in Port Moresby on Saturday on the back of a six-match unbeaten run under Kear, a former France and England head coach who is the master of the giant-killing act after guiding Sheffield Eagles and Hull to shock Challenge Cup final victories.

Kear has turned Wales from wooden spoonists into European champions since taking over from Iestyn Harris, and Joseph expects that winning mentality to pay off Down Under.

"We're on a bit of a winning streak," said Joseph, who was due to start a second spell with Bulls this year before their financial collapse and liquidation, ending up at Workington instead.

"John brings confidence and implements good systems and we're executing them very well.

"People might write us off and rightly so because we've not got as many big names as England and Australia have got, but one thing we do have is a good tough group of individuals that will work hard for each other."

No-one will work harder than Joseph, who established a reputation as a fearless competitor during a 13-year career that began with his home-town club Huddersfield and also took him to Swinton, Hull KR, Halifax, Oldham, Widnes, Whitehaven and Salford, but it will all come to an end some time in the next six weeks.

"I'm going to be retiring from professional sport," he said. "I'm setting up for life after rugby, I'm going to be a physio and it's gone better than I thought. I've got my own business which is pretty busy, and I'm at university as well."