Wales under 19 coach Anthony Walker has named a 30-man training squad in preparation for the RLEF Under 19 European Championships in Serbia this August.
No fewer than 16 clubs are represented with players plying their trade in Super League, Championship, League 1, domestic Welsh and English community sides.
Eight of the 30 come from West Wales Raiders, where they are first team regulars in League 1, whilst there are three in the squad from the North Wales Crusaders A side who were set up this season as a player development tool for their first team.
The 2018 Under 19s European Championship will be contested in Belgrade, Serbia between the 5th and 11th of August with Wales taking on Russia in the first round of the eight-team knockout tournament.
If Wales beat Russia then they are likely to face England in the semi-finals and ten of the Wales squad have recent experience of beating the old enemy. Five – Billy Glover, Finn Swift, Lewis Hall, Adam Young and Matthew Jones – starred for Wales under 16 when they beat England last year, whilst five more – Karlin Claridge, Cobi Green, Macauley Harris, Blake Turner and Aneurin Walker – starred in the win over England in the Commonwealth Championships in Australia in February.
Wales won this trophy when it was last contested as under 18 competition in 2008, beating Czech Republic, England and France and a number of those Wales players went on to win full Wales caps.
Anthony Walker, the former Wales international who was appointed as under 19 head coach earlier this year, said: “We’ve a good balance in the squad from lads playing in Super League academies, Championship, League 1 and some playing community rugby. It will be good to see how they step up in the camp in the next few weeks.
“My assistant Wayne Ponting and I have been really struggling to limit ourselves to 30 players due to the quality of lads who have missed out. It shows how well rugby league is growing in Wales.
“We are holding a camp on the 26th and 27th June and the final 22 players will be selected after this.”
In addition, the RLEF board has confirmed that England, France, Italy and Lebanon are all prospective hosts for the 2020 U19 European Championship.
All four tenderers must submit their bid documents by 1 October 2018, with the RLEF expected to make an announcement on the winning bid in November 2018. The tendering process for the 2022 tournament also opens this October.
WALES U19 TRAINING SQUAD: Adam Young (Aber Valley Wolves), Cobi Green (Bradford Bulls), James Bartlett, Morgan Cochran, Cadeyrn Hassall, Morgan Rowlands (all Cardiff Blue Dragons), Dewi Billingham (Halifax), Will Lynch (Leigh Miners Rangers), Cai Ellis, James McGurk (both Newcastle Thunder), Jacob Hitchcox, Mathew Monk (both North Wales Crusaders A), William Mills (North Wales Crusaders A / Salford Red Devils), Finn Swift (Pilkington Recs / St Helens), Morgan Cross (Rhondda Outlaws), Blake Turner (Rochdale Hornets), Elliot Jenkins (St Helens), Matthew Jones (Salford Red Devils), Jake Cannon (South Wales Rabbitohs), Ben Hunter (unattached), Lewis Hall (Warrington Wolves), Karlin Claridge, Macauley Harris, Rowland Kaye, Ellis Simon, James Smith, Archie Snook, Fraser Stroud, Aneurin Walker (all West Wales Raiders), Billy Glover (Widnes Vikings).