Wales coach John Kear has named a strong 24-man squad for their 2015 European Championship campaign, which includes ten players who are on the books of Super League clubs and a further six with top flight experience.
Widnes Vikings’ Lloyd White will captain the side and is one of 13 players to be born in Wales, 12 of whom have come through the South Wales Rugby League academy over the last decade. Another, Ben Flower – one of two Wigan Warriors selected – is vice-captain.
“We’ve gone for a deliberate blend of youth and experience,” said Kear. “Some players have been rewarded for their efforts last year which is a big positive, but we are looking to be successful in this competition hence the recall of established Super League players who took a break last time following the 2013 World Cup.
“Lloyd White will be a pivotal player for us, as will Ben and they, along with Huddersfield’s Craig Kopczak, should be our first choice front row. I expect them to be leaders within the group to set the right standards and move the team forward.
“Then we have up-and-coming players at Super League clubs like Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles – the St Helens U19 Player of the Year in 2015. They will have a great opportunity to mix and get a feel for the Welsh camp. Lads like them will be the mainstay of the Welsh squad for many years to come.”
In addition, Mynydd Isa’s Rhys Williams of London Broncos and Christiaan Roets from North Wales Crusaders are included who are Wales’ top all-time record try scorers with 16 and 13 respectively.
Ten of last year’s European Championship squad return while there are four possible debutants – two from St Helens and two from Gloucestershire All Golds – both clubs having four players in the squad.
Bridgend-born Jamie Murphy was unfortunate not to have won a cap a few years ago when playing for Crusaders in Super League, while the Port Talbot-born Courtney Davies, is also included.
All the players, with the exception Bridgend-born Ollie Olds who is with Queensland Cup side Souths Logan Magpies, play their rugby league in the UK.
Kear added, “We’ve had an extended player resource to choose from this year so it’s been a tough decision. Last year was a rebirth, this year we will compete well.”
Wales have rested squad number 6 for this tournament as a mark of respect for their former team mate Danny Jones who died earlier this year. Jones will be remembered in a testimonial game played between his final club Keighley Cougars and Wales on Sunday 25th October at Cougar Park in preparation for the Euros.
Wales have two home games in this year’s tournament, taking on France in Wrexham on Friday 16 October (kick-off 8pm) before facing France at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday 30 October (kick-off 6.30pm).
WALES SQUAD: Daniel Fleming (Bradford Bulls), Michael Channing (Castleford Tigers), Dalton Grant (Dewsbury Rams), Courtney Davies, Jamie Murphy, Steve Parry, Lewis Reece (Gloucestershire All Golds), Craig Kopzcak (Huddersfield Giants), Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (London Broncos), Matty Barron, Ricky Hough (Newcastle Thunder), Joe Burke, Rob Massam, Christiaan Roets (North Wales Crusaders), Ollie Olds (South’s Logan Magpies, Australia), Matty Fozard, Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Anthony Walker (St Helens), Phil Joseph, Lloyd White (Widnes Vikings), Ben Flower, Rhodri Lloyd (Wigan Warriors).