29 May 2014

Wales Rugby League have been using rugby union sevens competitions to prepare for the intensity of the Commonwealth Nines. Coach Jon Ellis has named a train-on squad which includes players from Super League academies as well as up and coming players from South and North Wales. This will be whittled down to 15 following the training session on June 8.

Training starts properly in early June but some of the potential squad were tested to the limit in the recent Sandbach Festival of Rugby where WRL entered two sides.

“The lads are going to step up to the mark and give the Commonwealth Championship their best shot,” said Ellis, a veteran of international rugby for Wales. “I took a young team of squad hopefuls to the Sandbach rugby union 7s in late May playing against specialist men’s 7s outfits. Both teams played really well and some star performers were seen on the day, showing some good skills and fitness. The teams did so well, one got to the semi-finals and another to the final.

“The call of the Commonwealth Championship is a huge stage to play the game from especially here in Wales. It brings confidence to the players knowing that their efforts have been truly recognised and that they get the chance to highlight just how skilful they are and the level of skill required to play this great game.”

Ellis has been delighted at the enthusiasm by players who want to represent their country and has been pleasantly surprised at the emerging talent around.

“There have been some surprises along the way,” he said. “Especially regarding players coming over from rugby union. For example, James Taylor a winger from Swansea in West Wales was playing for the Ospreys. His body type is that of Kyle Eastmond and with pace to burn he slotted into the academy set up after showing glimpses of potential in the trials. James has been working hard on his core skills and defensive work and his fitness is improving.”

The initial squad contains three players from South Wales Scorpions’ Championship One squad - Connor Farrer, Chris Leyshon, Jordan Sheridan – plus St Helens’ Morgan Knowles, Morgan Nicholas of Warrington and London Bronco Matthew Owen.

In the tournament at Cumbernauld’s Broadwood Stadium, which is part of the Homecoming Scotland festival of events, Wales kick off against Scotland at 1.25pm on Friday 27 June before facing Australia at 2.40pm and finishing their group games against Jamaica at 4.20pm. They will return the next day for the play-offs and semi-finals stage. Entry on both days is FREE.

Connor Farrer, Chris Leyshon, Jordan Sheridan, Alex King, Regan Grace, Marcus Webb, Joe Symons, James Taylor, Connor Davies, Curtis Davies, Paul Edwards (all South Wales Scorpions), Ben Jones, Morgan Jeffries, Zak Williams, Jordan Thomas, Rhys Davies, Daniel Maiden (all South Wales AASE Academy), Harry Cartwright (North Wales Crusaders), Morgan Knowles (St Helens), Matthew Owen (London Broncos), Morgan Nicholas (Warrington Wolves).