On the eve of the NRL Grand Final, Canberra winger Nick Cotric has been called up to the Serbia squad for the final European qualifiers for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The Serbians face Scotland and Greece in Pool B, with the top two going through to the main competition in England.
Cotric’s brother Ilija has also been included in new head coach Stuart Wilkinson’s selection, along with Paul Momirovski – who has just been chosen for the Australian Prime Minister’s representative XIII to tour Fiji – and North Queensland’s Tom Opacic.
The bulk of the squad is made up of domestic players, with eleven from Red Star and seven from Partisan, both in Belgrade.
Serbia only have the chance to qualify following the withdrawal of Russia, amidst political uncertainty over the future of the sport.
Wilkinson said: “I’ve quickly bought into what this nation, the people and the players in Serbia are about, I’m surrounded by passion. There’s great potential and I’m committed to building something special with this group.”
“We’ve quickly and sensibly prepared. Fortunately we’ve had five Test matches this summer which has allowed us to observe all the top tier players. Everyone has been given an equal opportunity to showcase their potential to be considered for these qualifiers.”
SERBIAN TRAIN ON SQUAD:
James Steven Mirceski (Asquith Cheetahs Magpies), Jai Smith (Burleigh Bears), Matthew Dragisic, Nikola Cotric (Canberra Riders), Jason Muranka (Keighley Cougars), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Morava Leskovac), Ilija Radan (Narabeen Sharks), Tom Opacic (North Queensland Cowboys), Bradley Deitz (North Sydney Bears), Dario Abidinovic, Dragan Jankovic, Dusan Milutinovic, Dzavid Jasari, Mihajilo Stojiljkovic, Nikola Srbljanin, Vlado Kusic (Partizan Belgrade), Ilija Cotric (Quenbeyan Blues), Bogdan Raicevic, Mihailo Tomic, Vuk Tomic (Radnicki New Belgrade), Djordje Stefanovic, Djordje Stosic, Filip Stosic, Lazar Zivkovic, Mihajlo Jovic, Stefan Arsic (Radnicki Nis), Aleksandar Djordjevic, Denis Cengaj, Marko Jankovic, Milos Zogovic, Nikola Djuric, Petar Milanovic, Predrag Keglic, Rajko Trifunovic, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Vladislav Dedic, Vojislav Dedic (Red Star Belgrade), Jordan Grant (Redcliffe Dolphins), Zane Bijorac (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Daniel Marjanovic (Sydney University), Aleksa Radic, Andrej Mora, Nikola Pesterac, Relja Petrovic, Stevan Stevanovic (Tasmajdan Tigers Belgrade), Milos Calic (Villefranche XIII), Vladica Nikolic (Villenueve XIII), Ilija Krstic, Vladimir Milutinovic (Villeneuve Minervois XIII), Daniel Burke (Warilla Gorillas), Ben Stevanovic, Paul Momirovski, Rajko Jankovic (West Tigers)
POOL B FIXTURES
26th Oct – Scotland v Serbia (Lochinch, Glasgow)
1st Nov – Greece v Scotland (New River Stadium, London)
9th Nov – Serbia v Greece (NC Makis Stadium, Belgrade)