We’re creating how each nation could line-up ahead of the World Cup, in collaboration with He Can Play For. This week, it’s Wales!
In these weekly feature pieces, we are selecting our predicted side who can represent Wales. This can include players born in that country, with heritage to the nation or even residency.
How Wales could line-up at the World Cup
1. Caleb Aekins
Aekins was born and raised in New Zealand but qualifies to play for Wales through his mother, who hails from Barry Island.
The Leigh star has aspirations to play in the World Cup, he told Love Rugby League: “It would be everything to my mum. My grandfather as well, he was a proud Welshman, he was the one who took us over. He passed away a few years ago but I know it would mean everything to him. He would be proud.”
2. Rhys Williams
Flintshire-born Williams is Wales’ all-time record appearance holder, with 31 caps to his name. He overtook Ian Watson and Jordan James on the all-time list when Wales played France in Albi in June.
The Salford flier will be hoping to play in his third World Cup this autumn.
3. Bradman Best
Best is regarded as one of the best young talents Down Under. The 20-year-old has scored 15 tries in 42 games for Newcastle Knights since making his NRL debut in 2019.
Best was born and raised in Australia but qualifies to play for Wales through the heritage rule. He is the son of former London Broncos player Roger Best.
4. Rhys Evans
Bridgend-born Evans made his debut for Wales in 2013. He has won three caps for his country as well as representing them at the Nines World Cup in 2019.
The Bradford centre has made almost 200 career appearances for Warrington, Leigh and the Bulls.
5. Regan Grace
If Wales are going to have a strong World Cup campaign, then this man will be integral to that. He made his senior Wales debut before he had even made his St Helens debut back in 2015!
The Port Talbot-born speedster is a fan’s favourite for St Helens and will be hoping to play in his second World Cup. He has won three Grand Finals and a Challenge Cup with Saints.
6. Harry Smith
The Challenge Cup winner was born and raised in Widnes but qualifies to play through Wales through his grandfather, who hails from Cardiff.
Wales have contacted the England Knights international over him potentially playing for them in the World Cup, with Smith telling Love Rugby League he is currently considering his options. He is eligible to play for England and Wales.
Under eligibility rules, Smith would still be allowed to play for England at a later date if he played for Wales in this World Cup as they are a tier-two nation.
7. Josh Ralph
The 24-year-old is currently playing for the Mounties in the New South Wales Cup.
Ralph was born on the Gold Coast in Queensland but is eligible to play for Wales under the family heritage ruling. He has won four caps for Wales, scoring four tries. Ralph will be hoping to play in his second World Cup later this year.
8. Gil Dudson
Out of all the Welsh props, Dudson has the most experience of playing in the big games. The Welshman has been playing in Super League ever since he joined Crusaders back in 2009.
The 31-year-old was part of the Wigan side that did the double in 2013, with him playing for Wales in the World Cup later that year.
Dudson has since reached major finals with Salford and Catalans. He will be a Warrington player in 2023.
9. Matty Fozard
The Widnes hooker has won nine caps for Wales since making his international debut under current coach John Kear in 2013. He was part of the Welsh squad for the last World Cup in 2017.
Fozard has made almost 200 career appearances for Wales, Sheffield, London Broncos and Widnes.
10. Dan Fleming
Fleming was born in Halifax but is eligible to play for Wales via family heritage. He has won nine caps for Wales since making his debut in 2012.
The 29-year-old prop played in the 2013 World Cup as well as the Nines World Cup in 2019. He currently plays for Bradford in the Championship.
11. Chester Butler
Butler is the grandson of Great Britain and Wales legend Colin Dixon. He has scored two tries in five games for Wales so far and was part of their squad for the last World Cup.
The 26-year-old is currently on loan at Bradford from Super League side Huddersfield.
12. Tyson Frizell
Frizell is well-known for being an Australia and New South Wales representative, but he actually made his international debut for Wales back in 2011.
He was born in Australia to a Welsh father and a Tongan mother. He won six caps for Wales between 2011-13, playing at the 2013 World Cup. The 30-year-old, who has made more than 200 NRL appearances, switched allegiance to Australia in 2016.
Could we see Frizell back in a Wales shirt this autumn?
13. Ben Evans
Bridgend-born Evans is the twin brother of Rhys, who featured earlier on in this team. Ben has won 11 caps for Wales since making his international debut in 2012.
The Bradford prop could play in his third World Cup this autumn. He also played in the Nines World Cup in Sydney in 2019.
14. Elliot Kear
Kear is one of the most versatile players you’ll ever come across. The Cardiff-born utility can play full-back, wing, centre or even half-back.
The 33-year-old has scored 12 tries in 27 appearances for his country. Kear could play in his third World Cup this autumn if selected.
15. Bailey Antrobus
Antrobus expressed his desire to represent his Welsh heritage at the World Cup following his move to Championship side York.
The 22-year-old made his international debut for Wales in their 34-10 defeat to France in Albi in June.
16. Ant Walker
The Bradford prop has won nine caps for Wales so far. He will be hoping to play in his second World Cup after featuring in the 2013 tournament.
Walker got the green light to return to rugby league in 2021 following a four-year lay-off. Prior to that he had been told to retire due to an underlying brain abnormality in 2017.
17. Tom Hopkins
The Barrow forward made his international debut for Wales in their loss to France mid-season.
Hopkins has played for the Raiders for the last three seasons. He will be hoping to play in his World Cup at the end of the year.