By Gareth Jones and Ian Golden, Date: 23/10/13
Wales Rugby League prop Gil Dudson is hoping to cap of an amazing year by making a huge impact at Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Wales kick off their campaign against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm) as the global sporting event of 2013 gets underway in style.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a tremendous season for Wigan Warriors, winning both the Challenge Cup and Super League title alongside fellow Welshman Ben Flower.
But Dudson says that representing Wales at the Rugby League World Cup 2013 would eclipse those amazing achievements.
“Winning one competition alone in any given year is unbelievable,” he said. “But to do the double this year has been a dream come true – I couldn’t have imagined it. To finish the season on a high by winning the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and then to go straight into the Welsh camp with all my mates here has been fantastic.
“Preparations here with Wales have been going really well. We’ve had a good first week, the boys have really ripped into training and everyone has bought in to what we’re trying to achieve. We just can’t wait to start now.
“The squad is pretty familiar as we’ve had a good few years together now. Every boy dreams of playing in a World Cup so I’m really excited to play in one for Wales on home soil. It will cap off an amazing season and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“A lot of the players in the squad have come through together and have been around since 2008. The core group has been together for around five years now so we all know what it’s about.
“We’ve got some added experience and quality players going into the World Cup and we are hoping to achieve something. We’re in quite a tough group so we know the challenge that’s facing us.”
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium will be the setting for a spectacular opening ceremony for the competition at 1.30pm, with England taking on Australia at 2.30pm before Wales entertain the Italians.
And as a proud Welshman, Dudson says it will be a dream come true to don the Welsh jersey at the famous stadium.
“It’s our national stadium and it will be a proud moment for me if I’m selected,” he said.
“I played there at Millennium Magic with the Crusaders in 2010 and we had a good win over Salford. It was a fantastic experience but the crowd wasn’t that big so the atmosphere wasn’t there.
“This time it’ll be different. With 50,000 people in the ground, it’s going to be fantastic this time around and hopefully I’ll be on the winning side again.
“As a kid, I went to Six Nations games and dreamed that one day, I would be running out there wearing the Welsh jersey. To get the opportunity to do that will be unbelievable with a good crowd there to cheer us on against Italy. If we can create the same atmosphere as Six Nations games, it’ll be awesome.”
Italy pulled off a shock last Saturday by beating a full strength England side 15-14 in a warm-up match.
And with another of Wales’ other opponents in this World Cup, USA, beating France last Friday, Dudson knows that it’ll be a tough competition.
“Italy have got a very good squad,” he said. “A lot of people have put their hands up to play for them, which always happens this time of year.
“They’ve got a talented side – the likes of the Minichiello brothers and Anthony Laffranchi so it’s going to be a big test for us. But we’ve got some good quality in our squad as well so it’s going to be a good contest.
“They turned England over last week so they’re not to be taken lightly. But we’ve done our homework on them and we’ll have to see what happens.
“USA went and turned France over and nobody expected that, but it’s the World Cup, teams are picking their best players and nobody’s going to be a walkover. We’re expecting a tough competition this year and that’s what we’ll get.”
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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