Brothers Jake and Tom Trbojevic and Brisbane Broncos rising star Tom Opacic have been included in Serbia’s initial train-on squad for matches next month against Wales and Italy, in Pool A of the European Qualifiers.
The Serbians, who have never appeared in a World Cup, have just over half their squad made up of players from eight clubs in their domestic competition, with Dorcol and Red Star supplying the most. The rest are from abroad with a few included from England and France.
The Serbian stand-off and skipper, Dalibor Vukanovic said: “We are so excited at this historic opportunity to compete for a place at the World Cup. As one of our more experienced players, this marks for me the culmination of the 15 year evolution of our game in this country.
“It is wonderful that such high profile and talented heritage players want to be a part of what we are building here,” he added. “When we step on the field in October, we will not be fighting for ourselves and our country alone, but for the hard work and sacrifice also, that thousands of enthusiasts have given for the sport here in Serbia to get this international recognition.”
His half-back partner, Vladislav Dedic noted: “Four or five years ago I could only watch great rugby league stars on television; now I have a chance to be on the field, toe to toe with them. We are preparing hard for the two historic games that stand between us and possible World Cup glory. Wales and Italy are two great teams, we have the utmost respect for both nations, and we will have to outperform ourselves to beat them.”
SERBIA 56-MAN TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Stevan Dobric (Belrose Eagles), David Andjelic (Blacktown Workers), Tom Opacic (Brisbane Broncos), Nikola Strbac (Bristol Sonics), Joshua Blenkinsop (Burleigh Bears), Ilija Cotric (Bush Rangers), Reece Grkenic (Cabramatta), Nikola Cotric (Canberra Raiders), Danilo Delic, Nebojsa Zivanovic, Zoran Pesic (Carpentras), Daniel Burke (Collegians), Jason Muranka (Dewsbury Rams), Aleksa Radic, Andrej Mora, Dalibor Samardzic, Dalibor Vukanovic, Radovan Tajsic, Relja Petrovic, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Stevan Stevanovic (Dorcol), George Vujanovic (East Tigers), Djordje Stosic, Filip Stosic (Falcon VR), Milan Radojevic (Fassifern), Adam Nedic (Gunghalin Bulls), Austen Novakovic (Huddersfield Underbank Rangers), Joshua Marjanovic (Kawana Dolphins), Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Moravas Cheetahs), Dario Abidinovic, Dragan Jankovic, Dzavid Jasari, Nikola Srbljanin, Pavle Vojinovic, Vlado Kusic (Partisan), Marko Milenkovic (Radnicki Nis), Pero Madzarevic, Zarko Kovacevic (Radnicki NP), Milos Calic, Milos Zogovic, Miodrag Tomic, Petar Milanovic, Slobodan Manak, Vladislav Dedic, Vojislav Dedic (Red Star), Chad Grant, Michael Stig (St Clair Comets), Djordje Gak, Stefan Nikolic (Tasmajdan Tigers), Vladica Nikolic (Villeneuve XIII Leopards), James Mircevski (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jordan Grant (Wests Tigers), Dejan Lukenic, Ilija Radan (unaffiliated)