Norway visit Kalundborg, 100km west of Copenhagen on Saturday, seeking a first away victory against Denmark which would also clinch them the Nordic Cup.
The Vikingene registered an impressive 38-18 victory against Sweden in June but they have traditionally struggled against their southern neighbour. The nations have met on four previous occasions with the Danes winning three times. Norway coach Dave Hunter, who has selected his squad from nine clubs – Flekkefjord Tigers and Porsgrunn Pirates providing four each – is aware of the challenge.
“We have a huge task ahead of us playing Denmark on their home turf,” he said. “We don’t have the greatest record against them, however, we have the opportunity to take home the Nordic Cup, so the lads shouldn’t need any extra motivation.”
Ravn Arvidsønn, Leif Andreas Nilsen and former Lebanon international Gilbert Haydamous, who has been living in Norway for a decade, make their debuts, having impressed in the opening two rounds of the 2017 Norwegian championship.
Denmark coach Nigel Kitching has named 10 debutants in his squad, with 10 of his 18 drawn from the country’s most established club, Copenhagen RL. New development areas Kalundborg and Roskilde provide another six players.
Dansk Rugby League Forbund is discussing the formation of new clubs in those areas with the local municipalities. Only four players; Jesper Ika, Mark Bailey, Silas Mubanda and Eugene Hanrahan, remain from Denmark’s last full international in 2015.
DRLF president, Richard Munk Naylor, noted: “We are looking forward to the wider occasion as much as to the match itself. We are bringing rugby league to a new town, we will be handing several players their debut with nearly all of them local Danes, and it’s a chance to inject some energy and activity into the game in this region and reboot the sport in Denmark.”
DENMARK 18-MAN SQUAD
Mark Bailey, Stephen Borregård Clark, Jakob Brinkløv, Eugene Hanrahan, Ali Kamil, Otto Kaszner, Frederik Larsen, Henry Peter Miller, Silas Mubanda, Michael Strøyberg, Josh Whitehead (Copenhagen RLFC), Justin Eyles (Jutland), Fatai Ika, Jesper Ika, Brian Mammen (Kalundborg), Ben Simmonds, Joe Simmonds (Roskilde) Thyge Riisgaard (unattached)
NORWAY 18-MAN SQUAD
Bendik Kalvik, Sjur Strand (Bodø Barbarians), Harald Mikalsen (Farsund Bobcats), Svein Åge Breimoen, Kristoffer Milligan, Leif Andreas Nilsen, Stephen Skofteland (Flekkefjord Tigers), Reidar Flage, Joshua William Skidmore-Hornby (Lillestrøm Lions), Kevin Båtnes, Nils Kristian Holte, Kristian Paulsen, Chris Stalsberg (Porgrunn Pirates), Gilbert Haydamous (Sandnes Raiders), Mathias Vada Stenseth-Holm (Sparbu Lumberjacks), Ravn Arvidsønn, Nathan Cummins (Stavanger Storm), Stephen Mwikaria (Trondheim Rugby Klubb)