Czech rugby league player/coach David Lahr has reduced his 50-man initial training squad to 28 for the European Championship C match with Malta in mid-July, after three training sessions in recent weeks, each over five hours in duration.
“The atmosphere is very good,” Lahr said. “We have had some great sessions and there are three more to come. It is tough but the guys are trying hard and the strength in depth is shown by who we are leaving out. The forwards are betting among themselves who can lose the most weight!”
“It will be a good experience to play against Malta and Greece but I think we can cause a surprise,” he added.
Included for the first time are teenage three-quarters Patrik Koliska – a highly rated winger from Chrudim Rabbitohs – Vít Čáslavka and Pavel Grim, while much is expected of novice hooker Jiří Pecina and prop Karel Hudec.
Richard Gach is back after playing in France, where he studied for a year while Michal Kučera and Jiří Sluka, who were in the national side from 2006 -09, have been re-called.
Eight clubs have players in the trimmed-down squad, Mikulov Roosters the most with six and, as part of the final selection process, Czech ‘A’ will face the national U20s on 28th June in Vrchlabí
Czech RL Squad:
Antonín Berk, Jaroslav Bžoch, Václav Fischer (Teplice Dragons)
Otto Friedl, Karel Hudec, Michal Kučera, Petr Šedina, Jiří Válek, Pavel Zemánek (Mikulov Roosters)
Pavel Grim, Jan Hovard, David Lahr, Adam Bjelka (Mad Squirrels Vrchlabí)
Ladislav Cintler, Richard Gach, Jan Heininger (Slávia Hradec Králové)
Kamil Havel, Milan Pešout, Filip Špaček, Vladimír Mach (Orli Havlíčkův Brod)
Pavel Mejstřík, Jiří Sluka, Jiří Suchopár (Lokomotiva Beroun)
Jiří Novák, Tomáš Ričica (Pardubice Jets)
Vít Čáslavka, Patrik Koliska, Jiří Pecina (Chrudim Rabbitohs)