Building from within: Wales to have 12 Welsh-born players at World Cup

John Kear Wales

Wales coach John Kear has admitted that his side at the World Cup won’t be the strongest the Welsh have ever seen, but is proud of the pathways they’ve got in place.

The 67-year-old has included 12 Welsh-born players in his 24-man squad for this autumn’s World Cup.

Kear’s side is made up largely of Championship and League 1 players. Rhys Williams (Salford) and Kyle Evans (Wakefield) are the only Super League players involved.

But Kear is proud of the pathways that Wales Rugby League have got in place now, so they can produce more Welsh-born talent for future World Cups.

“When we had elite rugby union players in 1995 and 2000 like Jonathan Davies turning to rugby league because it was professional, they could get to the semi-finals,” Kear explained to Love Rugby League.

“Since then, we’ve had to re-look at ourselves and we’ve had to try and grow our own. There are 12 of the 24 in the squad who are Welsh-born.

“We’ve got systems and structures in place like Under-16s, Under-19s, Wheelchair and Women’s, so we are growing our own.

“An incremental goal for us would be to win a game. We didn’t get out the group stages in 2013 and 2017, we didn’t even qualify in 2008, so if we pick up a win, then you never know what happens to a player’s confidence and belief.”

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Wales are in the group of death at this year’s World Cup. They are pooled alongside big-hitters Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.

“You can’t have your head in the clouds,” Kear told Love Rugby League. “You need to be realistic and look at things that are achievable.

“We certainly think it’s achievable to have a great life experience and we also think it’s achievable to front up against these superstars and put in performances that we can be proud of. You never know, if they do that, then they might get on the right side of the scoreboard as well.

“We’ve spoken about this as a group and we’ve set our goals within our huddle. I’m certain if we achieve them that we’ll go away from this World Cup thinking we’ve achieved great progress for Wales Rugby League, and also for the game throughout the British Isles.”

Wales get their World Cup campaign underway against the Cook Islands in Leigh on Wednesday, October 19.

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About Drew Darbyshire 8527 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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