Expansionist Blog: Regan Grace aiming to fly flag for Wales in Great Britain squad

Drew Darbyshire

How does a young lad from the rugby union mad town of Port Talbot become one of rugby league’s hottest prospects?

Regan Grace has a unique story of how he got into rugby league, and it’s one that could inspire generations upon generations of Welsh youngsters,

Like most Welsh kids, Grace grew up playing rugby union and actually played several games for Ospreys’ Under-16s side before being invited for trials at St Helens.

The 22-year-old winger also spent time in the junior ranks at South Wales Scorpions, where he found his love and passion for rugby league.

After impressing in Saints’ academy, Grace made his debut for Wales’ rugby league side before he made his first-team debut for St Helens.

He helped Wales claim the 2015 European Championship title and then made his St Helens debut in a Good Friday derby against Wigan in 2017.

The speedster is one of the brightest young players in the world right now, having scored 45 tries in 76 appearances for Saints so far.

And Grace is hoping to build on his six international caps for Wales by being selected to tour the southern hemisphere with Great Britain this autumn.

He said: “Hopefully I can put myself forward this year and hopefully the people watching think I’m good enough to be a part of it.

“There is one person from my town that made it as a Great Britain Lion and that’s Richard Hibbard [rugby union player], who is like a god in our town. He’s just opened a cafe and it’s full every day!

“Being a Great Britain Lion is the top achievement, it’s the biggest stage. Having Great Britain back means there are a wider variety of players to choose from and it means a bigger depth of the squad.

“There’s probably kids in Wales who will look up to me. Hopefully some will do what I did and follow the league route instead of the conventional union route and do something different.

“I had a go at league and hopefully it inspires more Welsh kids to do the same as me.”

Two of Grace’s St Helens team-mates – Lachlan Coote and Morgan Knowles – have represented Scotland and Wales at international level, too.

And Grace believes the Saints pair are more than capable of making Wayne Bennett’s squad for the tour.

He added: “There’s a lot of diversity from each country here at Saints which is good to have.

“I think a lot of people can add to the Great Britain team from Saints.

“I’ve been happy with my form this year but there’s always room for improvement as everyone else is improving, so it means you have to improve as well.

“I am just concentrating on Saints because that’s where I’m at right now. I want to do the best I can and win stuff with Saints and anything that comes off the back of that is a bonus.”

More expansionist blogs

When the heartlanders Lancashire met hipsters Red Star Belgrade in Serbia

Nou Camp rugby league show a present for Catalonia

Jamaica reaping rewards from World Cup qualification