by Ian Golden, Date: 20/7/12
Kick-off (Saturday 21st July, Bonymaen RFC, 3.00pm)
Wales Dragonhearts are hoping to get their season back on track with victory against Ireland Wolfhounds this Saturday at Bonymaen RFC (kick-off 3pm).
The Community Four Nations tournament has been won by Wales eight times in its first ten years but England now look favourites for the trophy following their 56-8 demolition of Wales last month.
England travel to Falkirk to take on Scotland and Wales know that they will have to beat the Irish and hope for a home win further north.
Coach Craig Fox said: â€œWe need a win to bounce back after that England defeat. We canâ€™t do the Grand Slam this year but weâ€™re not out of yet in terms of winning the trophy but we know we need to win and win well so weâ€™re relying on this passionate Welsh support to see us through.â€
The Dragonhearts have had one major set-back before the game with skipper Gareth Howells withdrawing from the squad. Team manager Mark Jones has paid tribute to him.
â€œI would like to thank Gareth Howells for his effort and commitment over the last four years,â€ Jones said. â€œUnfortunately due to other commitments he has resigned as Captain and withdrawn himself from the squad. I know I speak for all of the squad when I say that he will be sorely missed throughout the remainder of this tournament but we all wish him great success in his next sporting endeavour.
â€œI would also like to congratulate Ian Brooks of Bonymaen Broncos, who the coaches have chosen to captain the Dragonhearts for the rest of this season. Ian has had a very successful Rugby League career since he started playing in 2011 and this will be another memorable occasion when he leads out a national side at his home ground.â€
Brooks said: â€œIâ€™m pleased to be leading my country out for the first time on Saturday.
â€œIt has been a tough few weeks for the Dragonhearts, with work commitments and injuries taking its toll on the squad.
â€œThis yearâ€™s tournament could not have started worse for us as we were on the wrong side of a 56-8 drubbing by England. Having watched a video of that game with the players, I know theyâ€™re raring to bounce back and put things right on Saturday.
â€œIf last yearâ€™s performance against Ireland is anything to go by, weâ€™re expecting a tough game with plenty of skill and physicality. We know the Irish like to play with lots of intensity, and with good organisation could cause any team problems.â€
WALES (from): Charles Stevenson, Nathan Hawkins, Lee Harben-Jones, Gareth David, Lloyd Ryland, Tylan Mafi (all Bridgend Blue Bulls), James Bija, Richard Brookes, Ian Brookes, Robbie Ford, Jason Howells, Richard Williams, Nick Clancy, Rhys Davies, Robert Jones (all Bonymaen Broncos), Steve Williams, Paul Emmanuelli, Alex Webber, Dan Davies (all Valley Cougars)
IRELAND (from): Andy Brace (Treaty City Titans/Munster), Joe Taylor (Dublin City Exiles/Leinster), Joe Mulhern (Leeds Met Carnegie), Callum Mulkeen (University of Gloucestershire), Andy McGrory (Coventry Bears), Brian Cahill (Country Cowboys/Munster), Joel Hinchcliff (Leeds Met Carnegie), Brendan Guilfoyle (Treaty City Titans/Munster), Bernard Westman (Portarlington Wolverines/Leinster), Wayne Kerr (Country Cowboys/Leinster), Graeme Taylor (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs/Ulster), Sam Wellings (Leeds Met Carnegie), Simon Deevy (Athboy/Leinster), JJ Baird (Antrim Eels/Ulster), Matthew Hadden (Antrim Eels/Ulster), Brendan Bourke (Country Cowboys/Leinster), Tom McKeown (Kildare Dragons/Leinster), Robbie Stewart (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs/Ulster)