How the West Indies could line-up if their rugby league team returned

Drew Darbyshire
West Indies rugby league

 The West Indies rugby league team last played in 2004 – but the Wahoos could have a strong team if they decided to make a return to the international scene.

The West Indies Rugby League Federation, which was formed in 2003, represented the Caribbean and West Indies region.

The Wahoos were planning to be involved in the qualification process for the 2008 World Cup in the USA in 2006 but pulled out due a lack of funds.

The West Indies’ only international rugby league fixture was played in 2004. They beat South Africa 50-22 at the New River Stadium in London, with the likes of Joe Brown, Alex Rowe and Jamaine Wray proudly representing their heritage.

But like the Great British and Irish national rugby league team, the West Indies split into individual nations following their only ever international match.

As a result, Jamaica qualified for the 2021 World Cup, becoming the first-ever Caribbean nation to do so. The Reggae Warriors have come on leaps and bounds, with kids now in Jamaica getting scholarships to play rugby league.

But just for a bit of fun, we’ve decided to look at how a strongest possible West Indies team could look if their international rugby league team ever did return.

Jamaica are the most represented nation in our squad, which was expected, given there are around 170,000 Jamaican-born in the UK, compared to the 25,000 of Trinidad heritage or the 10,000 of Grenada.

Love Rugby League has combined their heritage research with He Can Play For to come up with this strong team for the Wahoos…

How the West Indies could line-up if their international rugby league team returned:

1. Jake Connor (Trinidad and Tobago)

Jake Connor Combined Nations All Stars West Indies SWpix

Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix

Connor was born in Halifax and would qualify to play for Trinidad through his grandfather.

The Huddersfield full-back represented his Trinidadian heritage for the Combined Nations All Stars last year. Speaking to Hull Live about playing for the All Stars, Connor said: “I can represent my family’s heritage of Trinidad which is the big thing. My grandad is from there and my family have got that heritage, and it’s probably the only chance I’ll get to represent them, so I just thought I’d do it. I’ll probably never get the chance to do it again.”

2. Jermaine McGillvary (Grenada)

Jermaine McGillvary Huddersfield SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

The Huddersfield legend has excelled on the international scene for his birth nation England, winning 17 caps for England and four for Great Britain before retiring from international duty last year. He is of Grenadian heritage through his grandparents, who he lived with growing up.

3. Leroy Cudjoe (Grenada)

Leroy Cudjoe Huddersfield News Images Super League

Photo: James Heaton/News Images

Like McGillvary, Cudjoe is a Huddersfield legend. He won 10 caps for birth nation England between 2010-13.

Cudjoe’s heritage is from the island of Carriacou, which belongs to Grenada. He has previously spoken of his desire for there to be a West Indies team.

Speaking to The Sun in 2020, Cudjoe said: “It’s a massive achievement (Jamaica qualifying for World Cup) and I’ll support them from afar but it’s a shame we don’t have a West Indies team as that would open up the pool of players that could get involved.”

4. Guy Armitage (Trinidad and Tobago)

Guy Armitage Toulouse Olympique SWpix

Photo: John Clifton/SWpix

The towering Toulouse centre has taken to rugby league like a duck to water following his cross code switch in 2019.

Armitage, who represented England Under-20s in rugby union in 2011, is of Trinidadian heritage through his mother. His brothers Delon and Steffon played rugby union for England.

5. Dom Young (Jamaica)

Dom Young England SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Young burst onto the international scene in 2022 by representing England – but it was very close to being Jamaica! The Newcastle Knights winger was preparing to play alongside his brother Alex for Jamaica before he received a phone call from England boss Shaun Wane.

Young qualifies to represent Jamaica through his grandparents.

6. Jordan Turner (Jamaica)

Jordan Turner Jamaica SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

The 34-year-old made his debut for the Reggae Warriors in his testimonial match in 2021. Turner was born in Oldham and qualifies to play for Jamaica through his grandparents.

Turner has made more than 350 career appearances for Salford, Hull, St Helens, Huddersfield and Castleford.

7. Izaac Farrell (Jamaica & Trinidad and Tobago)

Izaac Farrell Jamiaca SWpix

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

Izaac and his brother Joel are eligible to represent four nations – England, Scotland, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. He made his international debut for the Reggae Warriors in 2021 but unfortunately didn’t feature at the World Cup due to injury.

8. Michael Lawrence (Jamaica)

Michael Lawrence Jamaica SWpix

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

The 32-year-old has made more than 300 appearances for Huddersfield but he will be a Bradford player in 2023. He has won five caps for Jamaica and played in all three of their World Cup matches.

9. Ashton Golding (Jamaica)

Ashton Golding Jamaica World Cup SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

The Huddersfield utility man captained Jamaica in their first-ever World Cup. He was born and raised in Leeds and is of Jamaican heritage. Golding has played eight games for the Reggae Warriors.

10. Ronan Michael (Antigua)

Brendan O'Hagan and Ronan Michael Ireland SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

Michael was born in Ireland to a Canadian-Irish mother and a Caribbean father. In 2020, the Balbriggan-born prop became the first Irish-born player to feature in Super League since Brian Carney in 2009.

Michael has won six caps for his beloved Ireland, playing in his first World Cup last autumn. He would also qualify to play for the West Indies through his Antiguan descent.

11. Kallum Watkins (Jamaica)

Kallum Watkins England News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

The Salford star was born in Manchester to a Jamaican mother and English father. Watkins, a three-time Super League Grand Final winner, has won 29 caps for England, playing in three World Cups.

Watkins would qualify to represent the West Indies through his Jamaican heritage.

12. Kai Pearce-Paul (Antigua & St Vincent)

Kai Pearce-Paul England News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

The London-born forward is of English, Faroese, St Vincent and Antiguan descent, qualifying to play for the West Indies through the latter two.

Pearce-Paul made his international debut for England at the 2021 World Cup. The Wigan prop will make the move to the NRL in 2024.

13. Leon Ruan (Barbados)

Leon Ruan Doncaster Leeds 1 SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

Leeds have snapped up Ruan following an impressive season with Doncaster in League 1 last year.

The 19-year-old is of Barbadian heritage and would qualify to play for the West Indies.

Bench:

14. Kieran Rush (Jamaica)

Kieran Rush Jamaica News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Rush was one of three Huddersfield players in the Jamaica World Cup squad – the others being Ashton Golding and Michael Lawrence. He scored Jamaica’s first-ever point at a Rugby League World Cup, with a penalty goal against Ireland.

15. Joel Farrell (Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago)

Joel Farrell Jamaica SWpix

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

Farrell is of Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage. The Sheffield Eagles forward has played 10 games for Jamaica and was part of their first-ever World Cup squad.

16. Jordan Andrade (Jamaica)

Jordan Andrade Jamaica PA

Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire/PA Images

The North Wales Crusaders prop is a stalwart of Jamaican Rugby League, having been involved since 2016.

Jordan’s sister Savannah has also represented Jamaica in Rugby 7s.

17. Aaron York (St Kitts & Nevis)

Aaron York Doncaster West Indies SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

The Wakefield academy product has signed a one-year deal with League 1 club Hunslet for 2023 after two seasons with Doncaster.

York would be eligible for the West Indies, with heritage to St Kitts & Nevis.

Extended squad

18. AJ Wallace (Jamaica)

Jaimin Jolliffe Ireland SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

Taking the last spot on our bench is the impressive Wallace. The 19-year-old enjoyed a strong breakthrough season with Bradford in 2022 and then represented Jamaica at the World Cup.

19. Ryan Millar (Barbados)

Ryan Millar. PA Images

Photo: MI News/NurPhoto/PA Images

The Widnes winger is eligible to play for three nations. He was born in Biederfeld, Germany but brought up in Birmingham, England and is of Barbadian background.

20. Kieran Dixon (Antigua)

Kieran Dixon West Indies News Images

Photo: Richard Long/ RL Photography/News Images

Another Widnes player makes our West Indies squad! Dixon was born and raised in England and is of Antiguan heritage. The goal-kicking winger actually played three games for England Knights between 2012-13.

21. Andy Gabriel (Dominican Republic)

Andy Gabriel Dewsbury West Indies SWpix

Photo: Ash Allen/SWpix

To our knowledge, Gabriel is the only professional rugby league player with family ties to the Dominican Republic.

The winger has scored 94 tries in 149 career appearances for Keighley and Dewsbury.

22. James Thornton (Grenada)

James Thornton West Indies News Images

Photo: Richard Long/News Images

Thornton is the third player in our squad who is of Grenadian background. The 27-year-old made 20 appearances for Oldham in League 1 last season.

Thornton has previously played for Hemel, Featherstone, Sheffield, Midlands, Dewsbury and North Wales.

23. Bernard Gregorious (Haiti)

The centre is currently plying his trade in the Queensland Cup for North Devils. Gregorious is of Haitian heritage and would qualify to play for the West Indies.

24. Delaine Bedward (Barbados)

The Midlands Hurricanes prop is the third player in this list of Barbadian heritage, joining Ruan and Millar. Bedward actually represented England Universities in 2022.

Thanks to He Can Play For for their collaboration, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.