Eaton made four appearances for Wales between 1999 and 2001 and served as assistant coach for the nation’s recent Four Nations campaign, before taking his current role as under-18s coach.
The former Dewsbury, Widnes, Batley and Keighley player divides his time between his international duties and his role as head coach of Championship outfit Hunslet, though Eaton insists that Welsh Rugby League remains a passion of his.
“They made me feel really welcome as a young kid coming through.
“My mum was born in Anglesy and I’ve always been very proud to represent Wales,” Eaton continued.
“Clive Griffiths was the coach when I came through. He’s obviously a staunch Welshman and he made all of his players aware of how much it means to play for Wales.
“Pride plays a major part, and I’m sure Iestyn and his staff will be communicating that to the heritage players within the current crop.”
And though Eaton will be forced to settle for a seat on the sidelines for this Autumn’s tournament, he’s keen to play his own role in Wales’s preparation for RLWC2013.
“I want to put everything in place and do all I can to ensure that these young players progress to the national squad this year.
“The under-18s team has got four or five players at least that will hopefully make the RLWC2013 squad this year, and my remit is to develop them and to coach the philosophies synonymous with the national team.
“We want to put things in place that allow as many players as possible to progress to the full squad.
“Losing Lee Briers from the playing squad obviously had its effect and it was always going to take more than just 12 months to replace that,
“For Wales to be playing at the Millennium is massive. Hopefully they can market the game well, get it sold out, and get the Welsh public behind them.
“It’d be a huge boost for Welsh Rugby League, which I feel is booming at the moment.
Just one team will progress to the quarter-final stage out of Group D, though Eaton is optimistic about the team’s chances.
“The tournament is about progression,” he said.
“It was pretty plain to see that we’ve had a bit of disappointment over the last 12 months, but we’ve got players coming through and I’m pretty confident they’ll serve us well this autumn.
“Wales should aim for progression and improvement. It was pretty plain to see that last year’s series was disappointing, but the Four Nations the year before was very positive.
“There are reasons to be excited, and we’re all looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
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