10th October 2017, 08:52
24-man squad for RLWC2017 revealed
Wales head coach John Kear has named his final 24-man squad for Rugby League World Cup 2017.
A 38-man train-on squad was announced back in July, but it has now been whittled down to 24 names for the tournament.
13 of the 17 players who featured in Wales’ victory over Italy last October to secure World Cup qualification have been included in the squad.
Despite not being named in the initial train-on squad, uncapped Chester Butler and Gavin Bennion have both been called up to the final squad.
Halifax’s Butler is the grandson of former Wales international Colin Dixon, while Bennion has recently left Rochdale Hornets to join Super League club Salford Red Devils.
The only other uncapped player is Josh Ralph, who plays in the Queensland (Intrust Super) Cup for Tweed Head Seagulls.
Ben Evans and Matty Seamark return to the frame for the first time since the last World Cup, while Super League Young Player of the Year nominees and St Helens duo Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles are included.
Ben Flower (Achilles), Jake Emmitt (elbow), Lloyd White (hamstring), Ollie Olds (ACL), Rhys Evans (shoulder), Calvin Wellington (hamstring), Daniel Brown (ACL) and Ant Walker (concussion) have all been ruled out through injury.
Gil Dudson, Larne Patrick and Dan Fleming, meanwhile, are unavailable for the tournament.
Craig Kopczak will captain Wales during the World Cup, while Phil Joseph and Elliot Kear will assist him in vice captain roles.
Wales head coach John Kear said: “I’m really happy with the squad that I’ve got for the tournament.
“We’ve had withdrawals – some because of injury and some for personal reasons – but the lads who are going are showing a great deal of desire to represent their country.
“I’m pretty certain that they will perform at this World Cup on the biggest stage. It’s a great opportunity.
“We’ve not won a World Cup match since 2000. We didn’t qualify for the 2008 World Cup and we didn’t win in 2013.
“It’s a long time between World Cup wins, but we’re unbeaten in six matches and the main goal is to get that first win. There’s then nothing to say that we can’t get out of the group and make the quarter-finals.”
WALES' 24-MAN SQUAD FOR RLWC2017: Courtney Davies, Steve Parry (both Gloucestershire All Golds), Chester Butler (Halifax), Danny Ansell (Hunslet), Sam Hopkins (Leigh Centurions), Michael Channing, Ben Evans, Dalton Grant, Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (all London Broncos), Matty Barron (Newcastle Thunder), Joe Burke (Oldham), Gavin Bennion (Rochdale Hornets), Craig Kopczak (Salford Red Devils), Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles), Andrew Gay, Christiaan Roets (both South Wales Ironmen), Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Ben Morris (all St Helens), Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions), Josh Ralph (Tweed Head Seagulls), Phil Joseph (Workington Town), Matty Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
Wales’ 24-man squad will meet up later today to begin a two-day training camp in North Wales, concluding with a celebration dinner tomorrow evening.
The squad will then fly out to Brisbane for a further training camp on Tuesday, October 17.
Wales will open their Rugby League World Cup 2017 campaign against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on Saturday, October 28.
They will then travel to Townsville in North Queensland to take on Fiji on Sunday, Novemeber 5.
One week later, the Dragons will play their final group match against Ireland in Perth.
Get behind Wales at the World Cup by purchasing the new replica shirt! Visit the online shop HERE.
"I’m really happy with the squad that I’ve got for the tournament.We’ve had withdrawals – some because of injury and some for personal reasons – but the lads who are going are showing a great deal of desire to represent their country"
Wales' 24-man squad for RLWC2017