Dragons eye Commonwealth title

Wales Under 23s coach Shane Eccles has put his side through their paces today as the team go into a rest day today (Thursday) before the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championships launches on Friday, writes Ian Golden.

The Under 23s Nines competition, which is taking place at Redcliffe Dolphins RLFC in Moreton Bay, Queensland on February 23-24, is officially endorsed by the Commonwealth Games Federation and is classed as an exhibition sport with the aim for it to become a full medal sport in 2026.

Wales won bronze four years ago in Glasgow, and they will again take on Australia, the 2014 silver medalists, as well as Fiji and Scotland in Group A.

“It’s been a long day,” Eccles said. “We started at 9.00am with an attack-based session before we went into the gym, and the players did all of their different programmes.

“We then had a rest and came back on the field this afternoon with a team run ready for Friday.

“It was a good learning session this afternoon. There were some mistakes but that wasn’t a negative – I said to the lads that there will be mistakes on Friday and we need to learn how to respond to it. There were many good points too, some good attack and skill from them this afternoon.”

He continued: “It’s a day off tomorrow, we’ll get up and do some stretching to loosen up some muscles, have some breakfast and then go into Brisbane to the city centre where hopefully we’ll visit the Suncorp Stadium.”

The Wales players’ afternoon’s session was witnessed by former Celtic Crusaders coach John Dixon, who now lives in Redcliffe.

England and Scotland are also representing the home nations.

Fixtures are:

Friday 23 February

10.15am: Tonga v Samoa

10.40am: England v Papua New Guinea

12.05pm: Fiji v Scotland

12.30pm: Australia v Wales

12.55pm: England v Samoa

1.45pm: Papua New Guinea v Tonga

3.10pm: Australia v Scotland

3.35pm: Fiji v Wales

4.50pm: Samoa v Papua New Guinea

5.15pm: England v Tonga

6.05pm: Scotland v Wales

7.30pm: Australia v Fiji

Saturday 24 February

10.45am: Ranking semi-final (Third, Pool A v Fourth, Pool B)

11.10am: Ranking semi-final (Third, Pool B v Fourth, Pool A)

1.00pm: Major semi-final (First, Pool A v Second, Pool B)

1.25pm: Major semi-final (First, Pool B v Second, Pool A)

2.15pm: Bowl (Seventh v Eighth place) play-off

2.40pm: Shield (Fifth v Sixth place) play-off

5.25pm: Bronze medal match

5.50pm: Gold medal match