The squad contains five potential new caps in Crusaders duo Peter Lupton and Jamie Murphy, South Wales Scorpions newcomer Dalton Grant who played a game on loan at Crusaders this year, plus two Australian-based players, Matt Seamark who plays for Brisbane Broncos’ feeder side Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Tyson Frizell from Sydney-based NRL side Cronulla Sharks.
Twenty of the 35-man squad have played their Rugby League for either Crusaders or South Wales Scorpions in 2011. This includes Warrington Wolves’ Rhys Williams who spent the start of the season on loan at Crusaders.
Training starts next week, initially with camps in both North and South Wales and Wales coach Iestyn Harris says that this will be tough for all players in order to select the highest quality squad for arguably Wales’ toughest tournament in their history.
Harris said: “We’ve a fall-out programme ready for the guys when they come out of their respective clubs, whether they are beaten in the competition or go all the way to their respective finals, so that’s all in place now.
“When the players finish their last game they will get 10 days off. They will then come in to a maintenance programme and we will prepare ourselves for our kick-off which will be against Ireland on October 22nd at The Gnoll in Neath.
“It’ll be good to get into training with them to take a closer look at them over the next month to six weeks. There’s a lot of optimism to what we can achieve.”
Harris was excited about his potential new players, three Welsh-based and two from Australia.
Frizell, an Australian rugby union schoolboys international, has a Welsh father and a Tongan mother, turns just 20-years old next month but has already broken into domestic Rugby League at the highest level, making his NRL debut with Cronulla Sharks in late July this year.
Townsville born 24-year old Seamark, who is currently playing in the Queensland Cup competition with Wynnum Manly qualifies through his Welsh grandmother and just injury earlier this year prevented him from breaking into the Brisbane Broncos squad for the first time.
“I’ve seen videos of their matches, the’ve held their hands up, their Welsh qualified and they desperately want to be involved with their national side,” Harris said. “They both look like high quality players and as they qualify and want to be involved, I’d be foolish to overlook them. We’ll get them in the training camp, see what they’re like in the flesh, see what intensity they train at and then see if we can put them into the side.
“Peter Lupton qualifies through the residency rule which is often a strange one. We have a handful of players who qualify through that criteria and what’s really important is that when someone comes in, that they’re in for the right reasons and they really want to play for Wales. He has said from day one that it’s a passion of his to play for Wales and now he’s finally eligible so he’ll be knocking on the door of the squad. He deserves to do that for what he’s done for Welsh Rugby League over the past three years.
Wales kick-off their international season with a warm-up match against Ireland on Saturday 22nd October at The Gnoll in Neath (kick-off 6pm). Tickets are priced £5 for concessions and £10 for adults in advance, going up to £6 and £12 respectively on the day. They can be bought by going to www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk.
WALES TRAIN-ON SQUAD: Craig Kopzcak (Bradford Bulls), Mark Lennon (Burleigh Bears, Australia), Jacob Emmitt (Castleford Tigers), Chris Beasley, Ian Webster (both Central Comets, Australia), Tyson Frizell (Cronulla Sharks), Andy Bracek, Gil Dudson, Ben Flower, Jordan James, Elliot Kear, Peter Lupton, Jamie Murphy, Gareth Thomas, Lloyd White, Lee Williams (all Crusaders), Ross Divorty (Featherstone Rovers), Danny Jones (Halifax), David Mills (Leigh Centurions), Geraint Davies (Limoux Grizzlies, France), Neil Budworth (MacKay Cutters, Australia), Rhys Griffiths (Sheffield Eagles), Joe Burke, Chris Davies, Andrew Gay, Dalton Grant, Aled James, Rhodri Lloyd, Steve Parry, Jack Pring, Christiaan Roets (all South Wales Scorpions), Ian Watson (Swinton Lions), Lee Briers, Rhys Williams (both Warrington Wolves), Matt Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Australia).