Wales head coach John Kear has named an elite train-on squad for the next two years.
Kear will use the 35-man elite train-on squad to select players for this autumn’s 9s World Cup and next year’s European Championship.
The elite train-on squad has been created for 2019 and 2020 to bring together a pool of elite Welsh players, and to focus on developing a competitive side for the 2021 World Cup.
There are seven current Super League stars who all came through Wales Rugby League’s elite player pathway programme, including St Helens’ Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles.
London Broncos’ Elliot Kear has been reappointed as captain, with club team-mate Rhys Williams, the leading Wales try-scorer of all time and joint-leading cap holder, also included.
After qualifying for the 2021 World Cup last autumn, Wales will travel to Sydney to take part in the 9s World Cup at Parramatta Eels’ Bankwest Stadium on October 18 and 19. The final squad will be announced closer to the time of the tournament.
Kear’s men will then return to full, 13-a-side internationals in 2020 as they compete with France, Ireland and Scotland for the European Championship.
“We had a really positive international campaign last year and it was great to see a young, hungry Welsh side performing well,” Kear said.
“It’s really important that we spend time together and continue to develop so that’s the reason we’ve formed this elite group.
“As well as meeting up each autumn for international fixtures, we’re going to be spending a lot more time with each other as a group for team-building exercises.
“We already have a number of players who are performing well at the top level, but we have plenty of talent and potential throughout the squad.
“I’m really excited to see how this talented squad develops over the next couple of years as we build towards the 2021 World Cup.”
Wales’ 35-man elite train-on squad: Rhys Evans, Dalton Grant, Cobi Green* (all Bradford Bulls), Josh Ralph (Easts Tigers), Chester Bulter, Connor Davies, Curtis Davies, Dan Fleming, Sion Jones (all Halifax), Jake Emmitt (Leigh Centurions), Matty Fozard, Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (all London Broncos), Lloyd White (Mackay Cutters), Rob Massam (North Wales Crusaders), Caleb Aekins* (Penrith Panthers), Gil Dudson, Luis Roberts* (Salford Red Devils), Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles (both St Helens), Gavin Bennion, Mike Butt, Rhodri Lloyd, Ben Morris (all Swinton Lions), Ben Evans (Toulouse Olympique), Courtney Davies, Elliott Jenkins, Ollie Olds (all unattached), Lewis Hall* (Warrington Wolves), James Olds (West Brisbane Panthers), Morgan Evans, Matthew Morgan*, Steve Parry, Liam Rice-Wilson* (all West Wales Raiders), Ben Flower (Wigan Warriors).