28th September 2017, 18:18
MEET THE TEAM: Christiaan Roets
The latest player to feature in our series ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2017 is Christiaan Roets.
Currently Wales' second highest try scorer of all time, Roets first took up rugby union in his homeland of South Africa and played for the likes of Pretoria University and Kroonstad's Technical High School.
When he moved to Wales, he continued to play union semi-professionally for clubs such as Aberavon, Caldy, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanelli and Ystalyfera, but he also tried his hand in rugby league.
Christiaan in action for Bridgend Blue Bulls
Roets came into professional rugby league just after he won his first full Wales cap. A shining light for Swansea Valley Miners, West Wales Sharks and Bridgend Blue Bulls in the Welsh Conference from 2003-09, he won Wales Dragonhearts and Students caps and also played twice for Celtic Crusaders Colts.
Those performances resulted in him being called up as a fringe player for the full Wales squad in 2009. He made his debut against Serbia, and impressed straight away as he scored a hat-trick of tries in Wales’ 88-8 win, before scoring a further try against Scotland in Wales’ 28-16 European Cup Final victory.
He has been first choice in the Wales side since then, has only missed three games (all against Italy) and has been involved in two further European trophy wins as well as playing in both the Four Nations and World Cup for Wales.
He signed for South Wales Scorpions a couple of months after his first few caps and starred in the club’s first game – a 22-20 win over Workington Town in February 2010 - but after 15 tries in 41 appearances over two years, following a brief few appearances for Tonmawr RU, he took the opportunity to again become a founder member of a Welsh club, this being North Wales Crusaders.
Despite it being an injury-hit season for Roets, he still played ten times and his experience was important around a youthful team.
Christiaan against France back in 2010
2013 was another season where he picked up a couple of niggling injuries, but he more than played his part in Crusaders' promotion to the Championship and scored a try during the Northern Rail Bowl final win over London Skolars. He also played in his second Student World Cup tournament that year.
In 2014, the 37-year-old had more luck on the injury front, played over 20 times for Crusaders and showed that he was capable of playing in the second tier, despite the club's relegation.
Roets stuck with Crusaders in 2015 as they returned to League 1 and was ever present once again, with Crusaders making the play-offs that year.
Although he signed a new deal with the club for 2016, North Wales experienced off-field issues and, understandably, he looked for a move elsewhere, joining South Wales Scorpions for a second stint.
For the remainder of the season, he was one of the first names on South Wales' teamsheet, making 19 appearances in all and grabbing seven tries - one of which came against his old club North Wales.
Crusaders win Northern Rail Bowl
This season, he has continued with South Wales and, despite off-field issues, he has stuck by the club and helped to bring on some of the younger players who have been drafted into the squad.
When you talk about rugby league in Wales, Christiaan Roets is most definitely a name that many people will know because of his association with the sport in the country.
He has played for Wales in one World Cup, one Four Nations tournament and four European Championship campaigns.
So, what would it mean to him to be selected for his second World Cup in Australia and Papua New Guinea?
Christiaan attacks for South Wales this season
"It's a massive honour to play for your country but, for me, my first World Cup with the students was in 2008 in Australia so it would be a bit of a full circle," he said.
"I could potentially have started with a World Cup in Australia and then finish with one in Australia.
"I've contributed to everything I could with South Wales and I hope that I've done enough to make the trip.
"We have come off the back of some good performances and, hopefully, we can take that into the tournament."
Name: Christiaan Roets
Current club: South Wales Ironmen
Community club: Bridgend Blue Bulls
Eligibility: Born in Zaf, South Africa. Eligible through residency
Date of birth: 05/09/80
Wales heritage: #458; Wales caps: 23; Wales tries: 13; first Wales appearance: 24/10/09; last Wales appearance: 21/10/16
YOU CAN SEE CHRISTIAAN'S FULL WALES RECORD HERE
YOU CAN FOLLOW CHRISTIAAN ON TWITTER HERE
YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW HIM ON INSTAGRAM HERE
Wales' group matches at Rugby League World Cup 2017 are as follows:
PAPUA NEW GUINEA V WALES
Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
FIJI V WALES
WALES V IRELAND
Perth Rectangular Stadium
Get behind the lads at the World Cup by purchasing the new replica kit! Visit the online shop HERE.