Wales coach John Kear has named his squad for the European Championships that get underway in just over a fortnight, with no less than four All Golds players amongst the 24-strong squad.
All Golds captain Steve Parry, fullback Jamie Murphy, halfback Courtney Davies and back Lewis Reece have all been rewarded for strong seasons and will by vying for selection for the first international on 16 October in Wrexham. Wales have two home games in this year’s tournament, opening at Wrexham against Scotland before facing France at Cardiff Arms Park a fortnight later. They complete the competition with a trip to Bray where they’ll face Ireland.
Steve Parry and Lewis Reece have gained international honours before but Jamie Murphy and Courtney Davies will be looking to gain their first taste of international rugby. Murphy, a former Super League player with the Celtic Crusaders, was most unfortunate not to earn an international cap before and is relishing the opportunity to put that right. Murphy, from Bridgend, said: “I want to nail down the full back jersey. I gained a lot of confidence and a bit of form towards the back end of the season and I’ll be looking to carry that through to the European Championships. My main aim is to gain a cap, which is something I feel I should have done in 2011. Obviously I’m very proud to get called up. There are so many people to thank who have helped me throughout my career, Gareth Nicholas and Craig Warlow probably the biggest back when I was in college. Anthony Seibold at the Scorpions was outstanding, as was Lee Greenwood last season. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In his debut season with the All Golds Courtney Davies suffered a long term injury but came back late in the season to provide the creativity in the All Golds wins over Newcastle, Hemel and Coventry. The young Welsh halfback was rewarded for several strong performances with a contract extension and has now received his first call-up to the Welsh squad. On hearing of his call up, Davies, from Port Talbot, said: “I’m very proud to get called up, it means a lot. I must thank a lot of people who have helped me throughout my career but I must make a special mention to Lee Greenwood who has helped me mature as a player this year. Hopefully I can make my senior debut, I really can’t wait to get started.”
Lewis Reece, another who has committed his future to the club, was one of the most consistent performers in 2015 and will be looking to add to his tally of Welsh caps, starting with the game at Wrexham. Reece, who lives in the Welsh capital, said: “Representing my country means a hell of a lot to me. I experienced it last year, it was a great highlight of my career. I’ll be playing with a lot of good mates and I really can’t wait to get going. I owe a lot to many people, they know who they are.” Reece, 24, made his debut for Wales in 2010 when he converted Gareth Thomas’ first ever international rugby league try in a 13-6 friendly defeat to Italy.
All Golds player of the season and captain Steve Parry was over the moon to get selected. The hooker, from Treharris, said: “It’s massive for me. I suffered a nasty injury last year so I’ve just been happy to get so much game time in 2015. To cap off my season with a call up for my country is amazing. I cannot wait to get into camp and start training. To represent your country is a huge honour, I’m just really excited. I owe a huge thank you to my friends and family to have helped me so much over the years. Everyone at the All Golds, the coaching and backroom staff have also played a major role in getting me back to the level I need to be at.”
Wales will be captained by Lloyd White of Widnes Vikings who will have Ben Flower of Wigan Warriors as his vice-captain.
Match day tickets for the games can be purchased here.
WALES SQUAD: Daniel Fleming (Bradford Bulls), Michael Channing (Castleford Tigers), Dalton Grant (Dewsbury Rams), Courtney Davies, Jamie Murphy, Steve Parry, Lewis Reece (all University of Gloucestershire All Golds), Craig Kopzcak (Huddersfield Giants), Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (both London Broncos), Matty Barron, Ricky Hough (both Newcastle Thunder), Joe Burke, Rob Massam, Christiaan Roets (all North Wales Crusaders), Ollie Olds (South's Logan Magpies, Australia), Matty Fozard, Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Anthony Walker (all St Helens), Phil Joseph, Lloyd White (both Widnes Vikings), Ben Flower, Rhodri Lloyd (both Wigan Warriors).
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