Wales coach John Kear is still hoping to tempt two up-and-coming NRL stars to commit to the nation for next autumn’s tournament.
Fixtures were released for the competition last week and Wales will face the Cook Islands in Leigh in the opening week, before travelling to St Helens to take on Tonga. They will then play Papua New Guinea in Doncaster to bring the group stage to a close.
With three physical games in prospect, Kear will leave no stone unturned in bringing together his strongest possible squad and is already in contact with two prospective players in Australia, as was first revealed in League Express two weeks ago.
“We’re looking at going out and getting a first Welsh World Cup win since 2000 and perhaps causing a shock or two against some of the Pacific island nations,” Kear told League Express.
“They will be great matches in some great stadiums, so it gives us a chance to show what we’re all about.
“We just have to do ourselves justice, which I am sure we will do.
“We do have some exciting games in prospect and we’ve already been looking at the NRL for players who might want to be involved in that. We even have a couple already in our Wales players’ WhatsApp group.
“Caleb Aekins who played at fullback for Penrith in their first five games, has Welsh heritage, as does Bradman Best, the Newcastle centre. He has been a revelation this year, so whether we’ll get him or he’ll play for Australia we’ll need to wait and see. But they certainly qualify.
“We are looking over there but we’re also going to stay loyal to the players who got us into the tournament. We have got some quality Welsh players based domestically and hopefully our squad will reflect that and be a team that who will embrace the challenge in front of us.”