Eight Players Poised For Wales RL Debuts As Performance Pathway Pays Dividend

Wales squad that took bronze in the 2022 U19 European Championships. Pic: Dean Livingstone

Eight Players Poised For Wales RL Debuts As Performance Pathway Pays Dividend

By Gareth James

Eight players could make their debuts after Wayne Ponting announced a 31-strong Wales Rugby League Under 18 men’s squad for the 2023 season.

The squad includes 13 players who were part of the Wales U16 squad that beat England Community Lions twice last year, and a further 11 who were in the youthful Wales U19 squad who finished third in last year’s European Championships.

Of the eight players who could win their first Welsh cap this summer, seven have come through the successful WRL development pathway, with one, Noah Chambers, flying over from New South Wales to play for his country.

The pathway is really showing its prominence in this squad release as it includes 15 players that are in the WRL National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Eight players have already played for WRL’s Super League partners Salford Red Devils at U18 level, with two of them having already signed for the club.

Head coach Ponting said: “Congratulations to all players who have been selected. We’ve had two trials this year, in which the talent on display was a high quality.

“This comes down to the amount of exposure of rugby league that the boys are getting through community rugby league in Wales, and the core of the squad coming through the pathway system.

“I’m really excited to get this squad together and start training for the upcoming fixtures which will this year be played as U18s.

“We’re building towards next year’s U19 European Championships and then the Youth World Cup in France in 2025.”

Four matches are planned for Wales, three of which will be double headers with the U16s,  against England Community Lions at Abertillery RFC on Saturday 3 June, Ireland at home on Saturday 22 July (venue TBC) and England Community Lions away on Saturday 16 September (venue TBC).

There will also be a match against Scotland on a date and venue to be confirmed.

Wales U18 squad:

Mason Apsee (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Alex Banks (Torfaen Tigers / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Carter Barnes (Torfaen Tigers / Coleg y Cymoedd)*
Daniel Bartlett (Cardiff Blue Dragons)
Noah Chambers (Woolgoolga Seahorses)
Rhys Davies (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Harrison Doe (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Oliver Ford (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)*
Charlie Glover (Halton Farnworth Hornets / Salford Red Devils)
Jayden Grey (Bridgend Blue Bulls)*
Llewellyn Hawkes (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Joshua Hill (Coleg y Cymoedd)
Jamie Jenkins (Cardiff Blue Dragons / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Calum Jones (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)*
Lewis Jones (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)*
Connor Lacey (Cynon Valley Cavaliers / Coleg y Cymoedd / Salford Red Devils)
Cole MacDonald (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)
William McCarthy (Aberavon Fighting Irish)*
Dafydd Morgan (Aber Valley Wolves / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Dylan Morgan (Cardiff Blue Dragons / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Ben Morris (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Finlay Northrop (Bridgend Blue Bulls / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Donavan Rankin (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Rhodri Rees (Aber Valley Wolves)
Brandon Richards (Bridgend Blue Bulls / Coleg y Cymoedd)
Thomas Richards (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Bryce Roberts (Rhondda Outlaws)
Ethan Stebbings (Aber Valley Wolves)
Charlie Stoddart (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Rhys Thomas (Bridgend Blue Bulls)
Cory Westermark (Bridgend Blue Bulls)

* Has also played for Salford Red Devils U18 but not yet signed for the club.


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