Scorpions gear up for first ever game

South Wales Scorpions are gearing up for their first ever game, a friendly against Wigan Warriors this Sunday at The Gnoll in Neath.

It is an historic occasion for Wales’ newest professional rugby league side who enter the Co-operative Championship 1 competition this year and Scorpions’ chief executive Phil Davies says that the whole club is looking forward to the occasion.

“It’s been a tough couple of months,” he admits. “But this is what we’ve been aiming for, our first game. I’d like to thank everyone at the club for helping put this game on, from the coaching team to the backroom staff to the players and support team, everyone has worked really hard in the limited period that we’ve had to put a squad and a club together. We’re not going to work miracles straight away of course but stick with us, the Scorpions are a club for South Wales and for the future of Welsh Rugby League.

“Thanks also to everyone involved at Neath RFC for all of their help and agreeing to be our home ground. For that we’re very grateful and we hope that this will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship.

“This game creates history in a few ways. It’s the first ever rugby league game at The Gnoll, the birthplace of Welsh rugby in addition to it being our first ever game.  We’ve had requests from fans over the world for programmes and for other souvenirs, interest in this game and this club has been so big. The BBC and S4C are coming to the ground to report on the game, we’ve had interest from ITV about doing a feature on us too, and we’ve heard that Sky are coming next week for our league opener against Workington Town. It’s an exciting time.”

As this is the Scorpions’ only friendly, they will field as many players as possible, with almost a completely different team line-up in each half.

A total of 27 players are expected to get a game for the Scorpions. The good news for the development of rugby league in Wales is that 26 of them are qualified to play for Wales with 22 of them being born in Wales. Englishman Loz Wildbore is the odd man out.

However Wildbore is one of the more experienced players in the Scorpions line-up. The 26-year old half-back, full-back or winger arrives in Wales from York City Knights. Hull-born, he has also had spells at Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Widnes Vikings, Featherstone Rovers, Doncaster and Dewsbury Rams.

Craig Richards will make a welcome return to The Gnoll after a spell with Stourbridge RFC. The former Neath RFC winger and Wales Sevens RU and Commonwealth Games international played a few games for Celtic Crusaders in 2007 and has also turned out Newport, Llanelli, Coventry and Bridgend in the 15-man game.

Much is also expected from Andrew Gay, a Welsh-qualified Australian from Toukley Hawks RLFC who play in the Central Coast Rugby League in New South Wales. There are a number of good reports coming from his club down under and they say that he is a player to watch for the future.

The Scorpions have also added former Crusader Dean Scully to their squad for Sunday’s game. He will play on a trial basis with a decision on his signing to be made in the near future. Welsh international and fellow former Crusader Aled James will also make an appearance with a view to potentially signing.

Five players from the 27 are Welsh international Crusaders players who are not featuring in their game against Hull FC. Anthony Blackwood, Lee Williams, Gil Dudson, Lloyd White and Lewis Mills are all set to appear and thanks to the dual registration rule between the Scorpions and the Crusaders clubs, this could be the first of a number of appearances for the Scorpions that they could make.

Wigan are bringing a squad consisting of fringe first team and reserve players. They will be led by 23-year old Karl Pryce, a winger who was brought into the Great Britain squad in 2006 and has made over 50 Super League appearances. He starred at Bradford Bulls in the first few years of his career and also played for Gloucester in rugby union.

Tickets are available on the gate priced £8 for adults and £4 for concessions.

SCORPIONS LINE-UP

1. Craig Richards
2. David James
3. Lee Williams
4. Stephen Ireland
5. Ashley Bateman
6. Loz Wildbore
7. Steve Parry
8. Lewis Mills
9. Shaun Owens
10. Gil Dudson
11. Christian Roets
12. Neil Dallimore
13. Aled James
14. Jamie Murphy
15. Andrew Gay
16. Joe Burke
17. Barrie Phillips
18. Matt Hutchings
19. Lewis Reece
21. Sam Studley
22. Phil Cushion
23. Alan Pope
25. Dean Scully
27. Dalton Grant
29. Harri Greville
32. Anthony Blackwood
33. Lloyd White

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