JOE Keyes heads into his World Cup debut with Ireland admitting: "I'm nervous and excited."

The Bulls half back hopes to be involved when the Wolfhounds kick off their campaign in Australia against Italy tomorrow.

The 22-year-old said: "I'm very honoured. I've played for them for a couple of years now but never in a World Cup.

"Now I have the opportunity to represent my family, which is a massive thing for me.

"I've never done a major tournament before, so it is all quite exciting and new to me. The boys are a great set of people and I can't wait to get out onto the field with them."

Keyes finished last season strongly at Odsal with some influential performances in the Championship Shield. The Londoner is now hoping to carry that form on to the biggest stage for Mark Aston's men in Cairns.

He said: "You want to do the same as you do for your club and do your best every time you can. But there is just that added bit of intensity in the international game.

"With both sets of players representing their country, everyone wants to put in 100 per cent – but there is always that little bit more pressure."

Ireland finished bottom of their group four years ago as the other three teams all went on to make the World Cup semi-finals.

With games to come against Papua New Guinea and Wales, they look to have a greater chance to progress this time.

Keyes said: "I think the group Ireland were in last time was pretty tough looking back with England, Australia and Fiji.

"Let's not take anything away from this year but our goal is to get out of the group and make our way to the finals. That is the standard that we want to set and hopefully we can push on."

Keyes, who impressed against Aston's Sheffield side for the Bulls, is looking forward to working with the top Super League performers in the Irish squad.

He said: "The team is full of some very big names who play in big games every week. I will be picking their brains and learning off them. The likes of Liam Finn is someone I can't wait to learn from."

Brandan Wilkinson and Oscar Thomas are in the Scotland squad who face Tonga in their opening game tomorrow.