MEET THE TEAM Craig Kopczak
18th April 2017, 13:46
When captain fantastic CRAIG KOPCZAK leads Wales out against Papua New Guinea in the opening game of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup on October 28th, it will be a special moment for him.
Not only will it be his 20th cap, putting him into the top ten most capped Welshmen of all time, but it will be ten years to the date since his debut, which co-incidentally was against Papua New Guinea.
The prop, who will draw level on caps with Anthony Sullivan, Roy Mathias and Iestyn Harris, is now 30-years old and has just signed a further three-year deal with his Super League club, Salford Red Devils.
Here we take a closer look at the life and career of Craig Kopczak.
PIC - When one Welsh legend met another.
PIC - Craig being presented with the Rugby League European Championship trophy that Wales won in 2015.
PIC - Leading Wales in 2013 World Cup. He's set to do the same later this year.
Good enough to play for any nation, Craig chose Wales and has now won 19 caps.
PIC - Craig in action for Wales against England in the 2011 Four Nations tournament.
Craig first started playing Rugby League at Bradford Dudley Hill ARLFC before going on to star for then Super League club Bradford Bulls.
PIC - Craig scoring for Bradford against Warrington in his early years with the club.
His outstanding performances in his first year at the Bulls gave him his first Wales call up, against Papua New Guinea in Bridgend in 2007.
PIC - Craig lining up for the national anthem before his first Wales game.
PIC - Craig receiving a WRL Player of the Year award from John Kear in 2016
After six years with Bradford, which included a loan spell at Halifax, Craig was transferred to Huddersfield Giants in 2012 and in his second season, he helped the club to win the Super League Leaders trophy for finishing top of the table.
Pic - Craig proudly holds up the Super League Leaders trophy.
It was quite an ocassion for Craig when he led Wales out for the first time in 2012 in a narrow defeat to France in Lens. He's now captained Wales in ten games.
In 2016, Craig signed for Salford Red Devils and he recently renewed his contract for another three years.
Pic - Craig scoring for Salford Red Devils against St Helens this season.
Married to Victoria and father to Poppy and Harvey, Craig regularly has his family supporting him at games
Pic - Craig with his children following a Salford game.
In his spare time, Craig is also a Rugby League coach, looking after the Rochdale Mayfield Mustangs under 7s.
Pic - Craig's Mustangs side.
Now, with Craig's Salford side competing for a top four place, and a World Cup to look forward to, 2017 looks to be a good year for the Wales skipper.
PIC - Craig with Lizzie Jones and the Keighley Cougars captain before the Danny Jones memorial game in 2015.
PIC - With the Salford lads following a recent match.
PIC - Craig at Wembley Stadium before playing for Wales against New Zealand in 2011.
PIC - Craig on one of his typical strong runs as he takes on England with Wales in 2011.
Name: Craig Kopczak
Current club: Salford Red Devils
Former School: Immanuel College, Bradford
Date of Birth: 20/12/1986. Born in Bradford.
Wales Heritage #442. Caps: 19. Debut: 28/10/2007. Most recent cap: 29/10/2016.
Wales' next game will be away against Papua New Guinea in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup starting in October. Wales enter the tournament six games unbeaten and as current European Champions however have some mouthwatering opposition in their three opening group games. Click here for a full World Cup fixture list and to buy tickets.
Opening 2017 Rugby League World Cup Games:
28th October Papua New Guinea v Wales Port Moresby, PNG
5th November Fiji v Wales Townsville, Australia
12th November Wales v Ireland Perth, Australia
For details on how to sponsor Wales in their World Cup campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.