New Wales Wheelchair Rugby League side head coach Alan Caron has released his first squad since taking over the role, selecting 11 players to travel to Scotland for the Celtic Cup next month.
This will be the eighth edition of the Celtic Cup. The gruelling one-day tournament, which sees Wales, Scotland and Ireland play consecutive games against other, will take place on Sunday 18 June, at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, near Edinburgh. Wales are chasing a seventh consecutive title.
Wales’ first match of the tournament, which is against Ireland, will be their 50th Wheelchair international, becoming just the second nation, after England, to reach that landmark.
In addition to Caron, there are two absentees from last year’s Wales World Cup squad. Andrew Higgins is living in the USA and Jodie Boyd-Ward is unavailable.
Torfaen Tigers duo Lee Sargent and Alex Powell are brought in to replace them. Sargent will be looking to win his second cap following a single appearance against Ireland in 2021, but Powell is in line to make his international debut.
Powell, who originates from Caerphilly, said: “I’m really proud to be selected for the Wales squad. I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to represent my country. It will be an emotional moment when I’m lining up to sing the anthem.”
Caron’s backroom team now contains two former head coaches, with Stephen Jones moving over to team manager, and his predecessor Alana Sargent being appointed the new Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Harry Jones will overtake Alan Caron’s Wales and world record Wheelchair caps record if he plays in both games. The Wrexham-born 25-year old is currently on 41 Wales caps, all consecutive since his debut in 2014. Caron, who made his debut in 2012 is on 42 Wales caps, whilst Boyd-Ward is also currently on 42 international caps – 13 for Wales, 22 for England and 7 for Ireland.
Caron said: “You have to pass the baton at some point. It’s an honour to take over from Steve as head coach and it’ll be an honour for Harry to take the baton from myself as most capped player. Who knows, I may return at some point.
“The Celtic Cup is great rugby league as it’s tournament rugby. You have to win a game to compete for the trophy. Ireland will show a lot of promise and Scotland are moving up the ranks, especially now they have a Premier League. We’re going through a full transition of how we move forward and hopefully it’ll be great to say that we can retain the Cup, especially with the players we’re bringing in, we’ve a lot of talent for the future.”
WALES SQUAD: Martin Lane, Gary Preece (both Hereford Harriers), Scott Trigg-Turner (London Roosters), Mason Baker, Stephen Halsey, Harry Jones, Lucie Roberts, Stuart Williams (all North Wales Crusaders), Alex Powell, Lee Sargent (both Torfaen Tigers), Mark Williams (Wigan Warriors).
Interview was conducted on Saturday 13 May, before the squad was finalised.