Wales name leadership team for USA tour

Wales Wheelchair head coach Alan Caron has named his leadership group for the 2024 USA tour that takes place in a few weeks.

Jodie Boyd-Ward of Leeds Rhinos and Gary Preece of Hereford Harriers have been named co-captains of the side for the week in South Carolina, whilst Martin Lane, a Super League winner with Wigan Warriors last season, and Stephen Halsey of North Wales Crusaders have been named joint vice-captains.

Wales are travelling to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to play two full international matches against USA on February 2-3.

They will be the first world-ranking matches that Wales Rugby League has ever played in the Americas, the first time that the Wales Wheelchair side has ever played outside of Britain and France, the first Wheelchair international matches to be played in the Americas and the first two international rugby league matches planned anywhere in the world in 2024.

Caron said: “With a week-long tour, you need a responsible leadership group amongst the players and I believe we’ve selected the right four players, we always wanted two captains and two vice-captains. They’ve all captained their clubs, so we know them as responsible leaders.

“Following the USA tour, we’ve the Celtic Cup later in Ireland later in the year. After this tour is over, we’ll review how the leadership group has worked and if we need to change anything. It will also depend on who wants to play of course as some players who are going to USA may not be available for Ireland or may want a rest. That’s part of the reason why we selected four people this time.

“We’re really looking forward to our week away representing Wales but we’ve a match against The Army first at Cwmbran Stadium on Sunday 14 January at 1.30pm and we hope to see as many people as possible there supporting us.”

Preece said: “To be selected for any sports team is always an honour and a privilege. I have been fortunate that I have the opportunity to play high-level rugby both in the running game and now the wheelchair game.

“To be selected to play for Wales has always been an honour, from my very first cap back in 2016 right up to now and to add to the honour, I’m delighted to be co-captain with Jodie Boyd-Ward.

“This tour is going to be exciting. The opportunity to play the USA on their own soil and be part of the first ever international wheelchair rugby league matches to be played in the Americas is a massive honour.

“We are going there as the number three ranked team in the world but we are under no misconceptions that the USA will be a tough test. We are looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Boyd-Ward adds: “It’s a great honour to be appointed as one of the captains for the tour, especially given these are the first international games for Wheelchair Rugby League in America.

“This tour will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m excited to see how the USA have been developing since the World Cup and to also go out there and show them what we’ve been working on too. Roll on February.”

Wales v The Army is at Cwmbran Stadium on Sunday 14 January (kick-off 1.30pm). All spectators are welcome, free of charge.