Wales name nine new faces for European Championship

John Kear
John Kear

Wales coach John Kear has named nine uncapped players as well as 12 from the 2017 World Cup for his team's defence of the European Championship.

The Welsh are boosted by the return of experienced forwards Gil Dudson and Lloyd White for a competition which doubles as a qualifier for the 2021 World Cup and gets under way on Saturday week when they take on France in Carcassonne.

In addition to the Widnes pair, Kear will also have the services of experienced forwards Dan Fleming (Halifax) and Jake Emmitt (Toronto) after being absent from the last World Cup, but notable omissions are the St Helens pair of Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles.

The new faces in the 25-man squad are Coventry's Chris Vitalini, Rhys Gant, James Mason and Liam Rice-Wilson, twins Connor and Curtis Davies and Sion Jones from Halifax, Elliot Jenkins (Rochdale) and James Olds (West Brisbane Panthers).

Kear said: "There's a lot at stake in this year's internationals and we're all looking forward to the challenge.

"We have a good mix of youth and experience in our squad and it's really encouraging to see lots of the up-and-coming talent progressing through to the senior team.

"Seventeen of the players in this squad are Welsh-born and that's something we're very proud of.

"We have three tough matches coming up against France, Scotland and Ireland, but we want to put in solid performances in each of them and give ourselves the best chance possible of qualifying for the World Cup."

Wales squad: D Grant (Bradford), R Gant, J Mason, L Rice-Wilson, C Vitalini (Coventry), J Ralph (Easts Tigers), C Butler, C Davies, C Davies, D Fleming, S Jones (Halifax), B Evans, E Kear (capt), R Williams (London Broncos), E Jenkins (Rochdale), G Bennion (Salford), B Morris (St Helens), R Lloyd (Swinton), J Emmitt (Toronto), C Davies (unattached), J Olds (West Brisbane), M Evans, S Parry (West Wales), G Dudson, L White (Widnes).


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