Wales head coach John Kear has named a 24-man Rugby League World Cup squad made up almost entirely of players involved in competitions in the United Kingdom.
The only exceptions are Josh Ralph (Tweed Head Seagulls) and Matty Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls) from Australia.
Kear has only four players who were with Super League clubs this season while he was unable to call on a number of leading contenders.
Ben Flower (Achilles), Jake Emmitt (elbow), Lloyd White (hamstring), Ollie Olds (knee), Rhys Evans (shoulder), Calvin Wellington (hamstring), Daniel Brown (knee) and Ant Walker (concussion) have all been ruled out through injury. Gil Dudson, Larne Patrick and Dan Fleming were unavailable for the tournament.
All but three of the 17 players who featured in Wales’ World Cup-qualifying victory over Italy last October have been included.
Despite not being named in the initial train-on squad, uncapped Chester Butler and Gavin Bennion have both been called up.
Halifax’s Butler is the grandson of former Wales and Great Britain international Colin Dixon while Bennion has recently left Rochdale Hornets to join Super League club Salford Red Devils. The only other uncapped player is Ralph.
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 were unavailable for the tournament.
“I’m really happy with the squad that I’ve got for the tournament,” said Kear.
“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 | THE DRAGONS
Courtney Davies (Gloucestershire All Golds)
Steve Parry (Gloucestershire All Golds)
Chester Butler (Halifax)
Danny Ansell (Hunslet)
Sam Hopkins (Leigh Centurions)
Michael Channing (London Broncos)
Ben Evans (London Broncos)
Dalton Grant (London Broncos)
Elliot Kear (London Broncos)
Rhys Williams (London Broncos)
Matty Barron (Newcastle Thunder)
Joe Burke (Oldham)
Gavin Bennion (Rochdale Hornets)
Craig Kopczak (Salford Red Devils) captain
Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles)
Andrew Gay (South Wales Ironmen)
Christiaan Roets (South Wales Ironmen)
Regan Grace (St Helens)
Morgan Knowles (St Helens)
Ben Morris (St Helens)
Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions)
Josh Ralph (Tweed Head Seagulls)
Phil Joseph (Workington Town)
Matty Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
WALES DRAGONS AT RLWC2017 | POOL GAMES
v Papua New Guinea Kumuls
3.00pm, Saturday, October 28
Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
v Fiji Bati
6.30pm, Sunday, November 5
1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
v Ireland Wolfhounds
3.30pm, Sunday, November 12
nib Stadium, Perth
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