20 Oct 2016


Spain make three changes to their squad as they look to return to winning ways against Ireland at the Campos Rugby Quatre Carreres stadium in Valencia on Saturday (kick off 1pm local time). The novice Spaniards went down 40-6 in Moscow last Saturday and have to win if they are to at least make the final qualifier for the 2017 tournament in Leigh on 4 November.

Former French international scrum half Nicolas Munoz from Palau is included, his last cap for the Tricolours being in the Alitalia European Cup against Wales in 2010. He has been brought into the 22-man squad to replace club mates Pierre Negre and prop Matthieu Griffi, both of whom failed to recover from injuries sustained prior to the tournament. Torrent’s Raul Simo is included, as is Hull FC youngster Joel Laynez who is set to make his debut.

“After our tough trip to Russia last week, this week’s training has been about putting some standards in our game that must be adhered to at this level, and the players have understood and taken them on board,” said Spain coach Darren Fisher. “We should see that in our performance this week. We know the Ireland squad will be very well organised and with the professionals in their squad will no doubt be a task for us, but that challenge only adds to our excitement. Valencia has a big ex-pat community so we are anticipating a good crowd.”

Backrower Laynez was a stand out for Hull’s U19s this year and is eagerly anticipating his opportunity. "I'm looking forward to getting out there to make my debut after two solid weeks in camp with the boys,” he noted. “We are all set for the game against a strong Ireland team but everyone is ready to dig deep and hopefully get the result we need to progress further and show what we are capable of.”

Ireland, who are favourites for automatic qualification from Pool B, make their first start in the qualifiers, fresh from their domestic international side playing Jamaica in Bray last weekend. Gregg McNally has been replaced in the overall squad by veteran Stuart Littler prior to his retirement from the sport, and Ireland student international Matthew Cahoon, who was injured against the Reggae Warriors, misses out, Haydn Peacock taking his place.

Ireland coach Mark Aston, who will give a debut to Warrington Grand Finalist George King (pictured) – one of five Super League players in his 19 - is looking forward to the entering the unknown.

“Spain will be disappointed after last week’s defeat and we expect them to want to compete in front of their own crowd - that means something,” he confirmed. “It’s a must-win game for us. We’ve had a couple of sessions and we’re in Spain for two days before the match so we’ll be okay, we have a nucleus of players who have been with the squad for a number of years.”

Aston added: “I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the domestic lads. They have had some games over the last few weeks, recording comfortable wins against Italy and Malta but then coming unstuck against Jamaica’s professional players, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react to that. We know what standards we set ourselves and it’s all about maintaining them in everything we do. We want to be respectful, present ourselves well and ultimately get the job done before heading home to take on Russia.”

The game will be streamed live via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4DNY3Q9dNs 

Chris Lopez (Army Rugby League), Antonio Puerta (Custodians Madrid), Joel Laynez (Hull FC), Ivan Ordaz (Irreductibles), Clement Laguerre (Los Gossos), Alex Doutres, Cedric Bringuier, Leandre Torres, Nicolas Munoz (Palau Xlll), Kevin Aparicio (Paris XV), Matt Dulley (Paterna Dragons), Miguel Charters-Blanco (Seaton Rangers), Gonzalo Morro (Tonneins), Aitor Davila, Raul Simo (Torrent Tigres), Adria Alonso, Andrew Pilkington, Luis Thorp (Valencia Warriors), Daniel Garcia (Warrington Woolston Rovers)

Gareth Gill (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs), Chris Hall (Belfast Met Scholars), Joe Keyes (Bradford Bulls), Haydn Peacock (Carcassonne), James Kelly, Mikey Russell (Dublin City Exiles), Alan McMahon (Galway Tribesmen), Luke Ambler (Halifax), Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants), Casey Dunne (Longhorns RL), Will Hope (Oldham Roughyeds), James Hasson (Parramatta Eels), Matty Hadden (Rochdale Hornets), Shannon McDonnell (St Helens), Stuart Littler (Swinton), Liam Finn, Scott Grix (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), George King (Warrington Wolves), Dave Allen (Whitehaven)