Wales Students rugby league head coach Craig Fisher has named a 24-player squad for the men’s Student Rugby League Four Nations Championships this July.
The Championships will be held at Sardis Road in Pontypridd, which was the venue in 2018 when Wales last hosted the tournament. England, Ireland and Scotland will be their opponents with Wales winning the tournament in 2004, 2009 and 2012.
Ten of Wales’ squad – Harrison Ashby, Ben Cripps, Cameron Hodgson, Gabriel Holt, Kyle Jones, Benjamin Luxford, Garin Nicholls, Jacob Purcell, Joseph Reardon and Alfred Velasco – are all newcomers to the Wales Rugby League pathways, with Nicholls having previously represented the South of England Lionhearts.
Just two of the squad have represented Wales Students before. Ryan Griffiths was capped in the 2018 tournament, and Kieron Lewis, who scored the winning try in the last international match that Wales Students played (pictured), which was back in 2019. Both have also been junior internationals for Wales.
Lewis, Hodgson and Holt are just half of the University of Central Lancashire representatives. The other three are also former Wales junior internationals – Jacob Lee, Billy Walkley and Mason Phillips – who along with Lewis are on Salford Red Devils’ books as part of the partnership with Wales Rugby League.
Other former Wales U16 and U19 internationals who are set to win their first Wales Students caps are Oscar Fisher, Dylan Morgan, William Lynch and Finlay Swift.
Completing the squad are two North Wales Origin players Iestyn Milburn and Jake Redmond, along with Max Walsh, Scott Simons and Jamie Leach, who have all played for domestic Welsh clubs. All five are set to win their first Welsh cap at any level.
Fisher said: “Our 2023 trials have shown to emerge a really talented and athletic group of players. Some of the lads I know from having coached before, so I know what they can bring to the squad and then there’s a core of players that trialed that I’m really excited to get to see play. We have a real mix of size and physicality, matched with an explosive backline, and a group of halves that have the ability to cause problems for teams in any area of the field.
“I’ve always coached in tournaments with the ideology that if we at least compete, we stand a fighting chance. I feel with this group that if we compete to our full potential, we can be successful.”
Fixture dates will be announced in due course.
Wales Squad: Garin Nicholls (Abingdon & Witney College), Iestyn Milburn, Jake Redmond, Max Walsh (all Bangor University), Jacob Purcell, Joseph Reardon, Scott Simons (all Cardiff Metropolitan University), Dylan Morgan (Coleg y Cymoedd), Will Lynch, Finlay Swift (Liverpool John Moores University), Oscar Fisher (Newcastle College), Ryan Griffiths (Open University), Alfred Velasco (Swansea University), Ben Luxford (University of Birmingham), Cameron Hodgson, Gabriel Holt, Jacob Lee, Kieron Lewis, Mason Phillips, Billy Walkley (all University of Central Lancashire), Benjamin Cripps (University of Gloucestershire), Harrison Ashby (University of Nottingham), Jamie Leech (University of South Wales), Kyle Jones (Wolverhampton University).