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Recap: Rugby League World Cup 2017

16th November 2017, 16:36

Recap: Rugby League World Cup 2017

With Rugby League World Cup 2017 now over for Wales, here is a look at some of the things that we learnt during the tournament...

 

NEW PLAYERS BURST ON TO THE SCENE

Wales head coach John Kear handed out three debuts during Rugby League World Cup.

In the opener with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Halifax's Chester Butler, the grandson of former Wales international Colin Dixon, was given his first cap.

As Wales bosses had only discovered his eligibility a couple of weeks before the tournament, it rounded off a hectic period for the forward.

Unfortunately for Butler, he took a knock early in the second-half and had to leave the field because of concussion. 

In the final group match against Ireland, meanwhile, both Josh Ralph and Gavin Bennion made their first appearances in a Wales jersey.

Bennion, who had signed for Super League club Salford Red Devils ahead of the tournament, came off the bench and put in a shift. 

20-year-old halfback Ralph, on the other hand, set up Ben Morris' try and showed signs of real promise with his off-the-cuff play.

As the likes of Christiaan Roets, Phil Joseph and Matty Seamark have now retired, it is important that further players are coming through the ranks. 

And, with Wales U16s beating England earlier on this year, it bodes well for the future.

Josh Ralph in action against Ireland

 

WALES PLAY THEIR PART IN A PIECE OF HISTORY

The Dragons' clash with Papua New Guinea was the first World Cup fixture to be hosted on the island.

PNG is the only country in the world where rugby league is considered as the national sport. 

During Wales' stay, the squad and coaching staff took part in several community engagements that they will no doubt remember for life. 

After visiting the UK high commissioner for PNG on the first evening, members of the squad went along to KoroBoro Primary School, where they took part in an assembly, signed autographs and coached pupils. 

Later that day, the squad was at the mall for another signing session.

 

THE UNBEATEN RUN COMES TO AN END 

Ahead of the World Cup, Wales had been unbeaten in six matches.

After winning the European Cup in 2015 with victories over Scotland, France and Ireland, John Kear's men won both World Cup qualifiers last autumn and drew with Jamaica in a full international.

However, the Dragons lost all three group matches at the World Cup, resulting in their exit at the group stage.

 

WALES SEE PLENTY OF THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

After holding a pre-tournament training camp in Brisbane, Wales travelled to Papua New Guinea.

They then flew to Townsville in North Queensland for their second match against Fiji.

Wales' final group match was played in Perth, which is the main city in Western Australia.

It meant that the team saw plenty of the southern hemisphere and experienced many different environments.  

In Townsville, Wales visited the Billabong Sanctuary