With the start of 2014-15 European Championship B competition less than a month away, Ukraine has announced a 22-man train-on squad for the biennial championship.
Promoted to ‘Euro B’ following their European Bowl victory in 2013, Ukraine has been forced to endure a tumultuous lead-up to the tournament due to the ongoing political situation in the east of the country.
That has led to the mass postponement of the national championship, which draws most of its clubs from the east and the Crimea after the first two rounds, and the switch of both its scheduled home games this year, meaning they now will travel to Russia, Serbia and Italy in 2014.
Head coach Gennady Vepryk has pinned his hopes on an experienced, 15-strong Legion XIII contingent, which has provided the bulk of the national team for years, and participation in the Paris invitational tournament in the first weekend of May.
Promising Donetsk duo Mykhaylo Chernyak and Sergiy Soshchenko, and tyros Kostiantyn Butov and Yevhenii, Dudka from Krivoi Rog join the tried and tested Kharkov spine. The squad will be led by captain and record national team scorer Oleksandr Skorbach and backrow Mikhail Troyan, voted player of the year in 2013.
“We hope to play well this season,” said Vepryk. “The players have all got through pre-season training. The lack of playing practise in the Ukrainian Championship makes preparation difficult, but everyone realises what is happening in our country so we are just trying to work around the situation.”
He added, “It does not frighten us. The fact that we are playing all games away might even be good for us, as it will focus us. Of course it’s bad for our fans but 2015 is going to be the year of rugby league in Ukraine and we hope our team will show what it is capable of.”
UKRAINE 22-MAN TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Mykhaylo Chernyak Volodymyr Mazepa, Danylo Pozhidaev, Sergiy Soshchenko, Igor Urkin (Donetsk Titans), Kostiantyn Butov, Yevhenii, Dudka (Krivoi Rog Rhinos), Andrii Bashevskyi, Vitalii Felko, Mykola Getmanov, Pavlo Kardakov, Volodomyr Karpenko, Sergii Kravchenko, Volodymyr Mashkin, Maksym Miroshnichenko, Oleksandr Kozak, Sergii Romanko, Dmitro Semerenko, Sergii Shevtsov, Oleksandr Skorbach, Mykhailo Troyan, Bogdan Vepryk (Legion XIII, Kharkiv),