LATIN America and Thailand have named their squads for the Sunday, June 1 rugby league international to be played at Windsor Sporting Complex, west of Sydney.
The squads reflect the growing reach of rugby league around the planet, a month after Samoa and Fiji, and Australia and New Zealand staged two entertaining Test matches watched by millions.
In what should be a tight encounter on previous form, the GYG Latin Heat will field its strongest team to date.
Having featured just three registered rugby league players against Asia Cup champions Philippines earlier this year, the Heat have named 15 registered club players in their 20-man preliminary squad to face the Thai Stars.
“That’s a combination of a number of factors, led firstly by the assistance of the NRL and RLIF in identifying Latino-heritage players,” Heat director Robert Burgin said.
“We’ve also benefitted from greater awareness in the community of the opportunities the Latin Heat provides.
“More pleasing than anything though is the number of previously unregistered Latinos that we have been able to encourage into playing weekly club fixtures. That’s what we’re all about.”
Three such players – Colombian trio Juan David Espinal, Sebastian Maya Jimenez and Diego S G Vejerano – first learnt of rugby league just six months ago.
The three train on lunchbreaks and weekends, due to being enrolled in English courses at night, and working days as a waiter, mechanic and sandwich artist
Together the Colombian triumvirate are also key to the GYG Latin Heat’s current project to send 1000 rugby league balls and development kits to various Latin American cities.
The Thailand Stars, which beat Japan 46-10 in January, have been doing similar developmental work in their home nation, recently providing rugby league scholarships for three players to learn the game in Australia.
The Latin Heat serve as an interim presence for 24 Latin American nations from Mexico to Chile until such a time that these nations can compete on a stand-alone basis.
Aside from naming rights sponsor Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, the Latin Heat thanks Crop del Monte Coffee Specialists, Rumba Latina Entertainment, Link Australia International Student Services, Fighting for Fitness Gym and Gringo Media for their support.
TEAMS TO PLAY SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 1PM AT WINDSOR SPORTS COMPLEX, NSW.
GYG LATIN HEAT:
NAME HERITAGE LIVES CLUB
CHACONE, Grantito Mexico/Argentina Halls Head, WA Rockingham Sharks
DELAPAZ, Sebastian Chile West Hoxton, NSW Marconi Mustangs
ESPINAL, Juan David Colombia Wishart, QLD Wests Mitchelton Panthers
ESPINOZA, Jonathan Nicaragua/Chile Greenslopes, QLD Griffith Uni Dragons
FHON, Luis Guillermo Peru Macarthur, NSW Nil (prev University Western Sydney)
GADEA-HELLYER, Josh Uruguay Casula, NSW Moss Vale Dragons
GARCIA, Rodney Ecuador Waratah, NSW Newcastle University
JIMENEZ, Sebastian Maya Colombia Banyo, QLD Wests Mitchelton Panthers
KUNGL, Ryan Uruguay Greystanes Greystanes Devils
LAING, Jaden Chile Leumeah, NSW Cabramatta Two Blues
LOPEZ, Jeff Ecuador Millers Point, NSW UTS Tigers
MUNOZ, Joshua Chile West Hoxton, NSW Nil (prev St Christophers Revesby)
ORELLANA, Eric El Salvador Parklea, NSW Nil (prev Plumpton High School)
PEREIRA, Marco Tulio El Salvador Tarragindi, QLD Wests Mitchelton Panthers
ROJAS, Carlos Chile Mount Druitt, NSW Minchinbury Jets
ROSSINI, Andres Uruguay Rosebery, NSW Sydney University
SOMMERS, Jye Peru Towradgi, NSW Corrimal Cougars
TOBAR, Brandon Chile Hobartville, NSW Windsor Wolves
VEJERANO, Diego Santiago Gil Colombia Kelvin Grove, NSW Wests Mitchelton Panthers
VIEIRA, Kris Uruguay Plumpton, NSW Nil (prev St Patrick’s Marist College, Dundas)
COACH: Ernie TOBAR (Chile)
THAILAND STARS (Major Sponsor Golden Age International)
1. Tyler Chant (Esarn Thunder)
2. Kittaphop Chaiyadee (Esarn Thunder)
3. Dangmo Chimpla (Esarn Thunder)
4. Micky Pannao (Esarn Thunder)
5. Adithep Chulacharit (Bangkok Southerners)
6. Rhys Tucker (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
7. Matthew Colgrave (Esarn Thunder)
8. Dylan Baxter (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
9. Charlie Jones (Esarn Thunder) Captain.
10. Alex Tate (Phuket Cobras)
11. Gun Banlusin (Esarn Thunder)
12. Willie Savanh (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
13. Narong Khamluechai (Esarn Thunder)
14. Curtis Baxter (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
15. Tim Grills (Phuket Cobras)
16. David Milner (Esarn Thunder)
17. Jackie Faengjanda (Bangkok Southerners)
18. Chatchai Wongsa (Esarn Thunder)
19. Phet Kinking (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
20. Benji Heath (Phuket Cobras)
21. Vissut Domklang (Bangkok Southerners)
22. Jack Farrell (Bangkok Southerners) 2
3. Joey Phantit (Bangkok Naga Warriors)
COACH: Andrew Charles