By Gareth Jones, Date: 17/10/13
Wales coach Iestyn Harris says that he is happy with the shape of his squad as they prepare to begin their Rugby League World Cup 2013 campaign.
Wales warmed up for the tournament with a comfortable 62-12 victory over a Welsh Select XIII at Colwyn Bay’s Eirias Park on Tuesday evening.
The game was the squad’s final hit out ahead of their World Cup opener against Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on October 26th.
And following a week of intense training in North Wales, Harris said he was pleased that the bulk of the squad got some game time against the Select.
“It has been a good week for us and we’ve hit a fair bit of intensity in training,” he said.
“We had some sore bodies going into the game, which is what we wanted.
“We never expected the perfect performance but it has given the players a chance to get some game time under their belt. We were quite happy with the outcome and the Welsh Select side came into the game with a great mentality. They wanted to have a dig and they wanted to show what they could do as well. I thought it was a good game.
“I’m happy with the squad at the moment. Some of the guys are a little dusty as they haven’t played for four to five weeks so it was important for them to get this hit out.”
Harris fielded a strong squad against the Select, which primarily featured Super League talent and he singled out twin brothers Ben and Rhys Evans for special praise
He said: “Ben was with us last year and he always gives you a 100% so you can’t ask for more than that. Rhys gives us some pace in the backs and a little bit of movement that we perhaps didn’t have before. He’s settled into the team extremely well and I thought he looked really sharp against the Select.
“We perhaps weren’t at our slickest but we’ve got Ben Flower, Gil Dudson, Larne Patrick and Ian Webster to put into the mix, and potentially Tyson Frizell when he comes over. We’ll be a decent prospect when we’ve got everyone on the field.
Wales’ attention now focuses on Italy, who have named a strong squad ahead of their Rugby League World Cup debut.
NRL stars such as Anthony and Mark Minachello, Aiden Guerra and Dean Parata have made themselves available to play for Italy, alongside St Helens’ Anthony Laffranchi.
And Harris is expecting a tough battle when the two sides clash on October 26th.
He added: “Italy have talked themselves up in terms of what they’re going to bring to the World Cup. They’ve got some quality players in the squad and you know that they’re going to test you in certain areas. It’s our priority to make sure our preparation is right and this week has allowed us to get that. We’re having a good build up to the Italy game in Cardiff and everyone knows the structure.”
Wales face Italy at the Millennium Stadium on October 26, before their clash against USA in Wrexham on November 3 and a showdown with Cook Islands in Neath in their final group match on November 10.
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