Wales feel the World Cup buzz
Wales captain Craig Kopczak believes that the Welsh public will turn up in significant numbers to support the host nation ahead of their opening match against Italy at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday (4.30pm).
All of the day’s events will be performed in front of an electric atmosphere beneath the stadium’s closed roof, as Wales play Italy after England and Australia battle out the tournament opener.
With anticipation building ahead of the big tournament kick-off, Kopczak believes that the excitement is clearly evident ahead of the biggest sporting event since last year’s London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“You can feel the buzz around the place,” said Kopczak. “The tournament is going to be amazing, everyone just wants to dive in now really.
“It is going to be a fantastic occasion against Italy at Cardiff on Saturday, and for me personally, as captain, I get to lead out the boys and it will be a proud moment for myself.
“The game in Wales is generally on the rise, you have got a lot of fantastic youth players coming through and the youth Rugby League in Wales is just fantastic at the moment.
“For Neath and Wrexham as well, they are Rugby League towns and hopefully the areas will get behind us.”
Whilst Kopczak would love to go far in the tournament, he appreciates that RLWC2013 is also about developing Rugby League in Wales, and believes that the players have the power to capture the imagination of a nation.
“Obviously I would like to win the tournament as the captain but realistically, every game is going to be a challenge,” said Kopczak. “We are going to have to put in 110 per cent in every game and it is going to be a challenge just to get through the group stages.
“Hopefully we can get through, we have got the strength to do that and we have got the talent to do that so maybe we can get through to the quarter finals and cause a few upsets.
“We are a work in progress at the moment, we have been building for a couple of years now.
“Our team hasn’t changed that much, we have had a few addition which will help us in the competition but the bonus is that we don’t need to gel, we can just go out there now, turn up and play.
“Our aim is to promote Rugby League in Wales and we want to do that through success on the field.
“You could say that we feel almost like ambassadors – if we are doing well, then people will turn up and support us.”