The Russian and Ukrainian Rugby Leagues will demonstrate their close ties when Ukraine travels to the Moscow region for the host’s opening game of the 2014-15 European Championship B.
Russian federation (ARLK) president Edgard Taturyan was keen to point out the friendly relations that have always existed with their southerly neighbours.
“Russian teams have had several games against our Ukrainian friends,” he said.
“We know they have problems because of the difficult situation in the country, but Artur Martyrosyan [Ukrainian federation president], even under the present circumstances, has been able to keep the championship there going. We are training really hard to be well prepared to the game.”
The spine of the group that won five out of six matches in European B predecessor, the Shield, remains intact, with 13 Vereya players named in Eduard Ososkov’s 25-man train-on squad.
But the squad could be even stronger following the potential return to Rugby League of one time Russian super-club Lokomotiv.
Last weekend the side, which turned to rugby union in 2010, but which is now under new leadership, played a friendly match against Vereya and Ososkov names four Loko players in his group, including former Wests Tigers trialist and Tim Sheens project Roman Ovchinnikov.
“I am sure that our game against Ukraine will be really tough taking into consideration that the Ukrainian players are big, strong and well trained,” added Taturyan.
The game, on 24 May, has been moved from Naro-Fominsk to Vereya. Ukraine travel to Belgrade a week earlier to open the competition against Serbia.
RUSSIA TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Petr Botnarash, Nikolay Zagoskin (Fili), Rustam Bulanov, Mikhail Burlutskiy, Sergey Gaponov, Anatoliy Grigorev, Kirill Nechaev, Aleksey Nikolaev, Sergey Konstantinov, Aleksander Lysokon, Eduard Ososkov, Roman Safronov, Andrey Sevostyanov, Maxim Suchkov, Denis Tulenev, Vladimir Vlaysuk, (Vereya); Artem Grigoryan, Kirill Kasharin, Mikhail Nisiforov, Roman Ovchinnikov (Lokomotiv); Andrey Zdobnikov (MGTUGA); Grigory Esin (Saint Petersburg), Dmitry Bratko, Vadim Fedchuk, Konstantin Roschin, (Storm)