Poland will play their first international rugby league match tomorrow (Saturday) at the Stavanger Stadion on Norway’s south-west coast.
Activity first commenced in the country in 2011, with Poland Rugby XIII set up four years later and the organisation receiving official status in 2017. “This is a historic day for us and we thank RL Norge for their assistance in organising the game,” said association president Lukasz Lucka. “This is the start of our journey in the sport as a nation and we are very excited about our prospects.”
The Poles will face Hong Kong and Japan in Pool C of the Emerging Nations World Championship in Sydney in October. Eight of their 17 players are from the country’s oldest club, Sroki Łódź, whilst two play in the Norwegian league for Sandnes Raiders. A total of six Polish domestic sides are represented.
The match has added significance for Norway following Germany’s victory over the Czech Republic in European Championship C – North last Saturday. The result means that the Vikings, who lost 20-12 away in the Czech Republic in game one, must beat Germany by 14 points in Porsgrunn on 15 September to win the group and stay in the qualifying race for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
“The match against Poland will be an excellent opportunity to redeem ourselves,” said Norway coach Dave Hunter. “It will also be a chance for players to push for spots for our game against Germany. We’ve bought some youngsters into our squad including teenagers Sindre Sæbo Rosland and Dan Horne from local club Sandnes Raiders. I’m expecting them to add some enthusiasm to our squad. We’re anticipating a huge challenge from the Polish. With this being their first-ever sanctioned match, they are going to play with great passion”.
The match will be refereed by Jaroslav Bzoch from the Czech Republic, appointed by the RLEF match official panel.
NORWAY 19-MAN SQUAD : Bendik Kalvik, Sjur Strand (Bodø Barbarians), Frank Kiriinya, Simon Viljoen (Trondheim Rugby Klubb), Lucas Zuniga (Lillestrøm Lions), Kristoffer Borsheim, Fredrik Nortun, Ezra McIntyre (Stavanger Storm), Kristian Hilton (Saddleworth Rangers), Harald Mikalsen, Kristoffer Milligan (Flekkefjord Tigers), Kevin Båtnes, Chris Stalsberg, Nils Kristian Holte, Arne Oma Torsen (Porsgrunn Pirates), Kim Andre Seglem, Dan Horne, Sindre Sæbø Rosland (Sandnes Raiders), Mathias Vada Stenseth Holm (Sparbu Lumberjacks)
POLAND 17-MAN SQUAD : Sebastian Puchalski (KS Budowlani Łódź), Krzysztof Ignatowski, Michał Smykowski (Sandnes Raiders), Kamil Dziubek, Jakub Jastrzębowski, Seweryn Smolis (Sparta Brzeziny), Jacek Kolasa, Mateusz Kowalewski, Łukasz Łucka, Emil Petit, Tadeusz Rusek, Krzysztof Tonn, Jonathan Tutak, Michał Wójcik (Sroki Łódź), Dawid Wożniak (Stryków Bulls), Mateusz Dziąg (Skierniewice Razorbacks), Łukasz Łukasiewicz (Wild Bears Tomaszów Mazowiecki)