Spain Rugby League coach, Darren Fisher has seen nothing but positive feedback after the nation’s debut in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers.
Three years in to their development, his side performed highly creditably in Russia and at home to Ireland in Valencia, earning plaudits for their spirit and desire against much more experienced opponents. Acknowledging that his side had faced a significant test, he declared them better for the experience.
“It was two tough games back-to-back,” he said, “something we’ve not done before so it was a good taste of rugby league at this level. It was tough for the boys but we put some standards in which is a massive credit to them, especially up against full timers.
“To be where we are, in just three years, is a real bonus for everyone involved in the sport in Spain because exposure at this level is massive; this is where we need to be competing; we can’t afford to take a backward step and our 40-man squad now know what that is all about.”
Fisher is determined that the experience will be put to good use, both in the domestic arena and on the international stage. “We’re looking to go from strength to strength,” he commented. “Playing for the first time in European Championship B will be our focus next year, and we’ll add a couple of friendlies as well because our leagues need to grow even stronger.
“We are already up to 24 teams, bringing on juniors and women and looking at expanding into national U23s to give more players the chance to wear the Spanish shirt. And we’re also working on using our U19s to play in double-headers to the full national side.
I have already been in touch with Belgium and Malta about that because they loved coming here and we want to repay them.”