The Serbian Rugby League Federation have recruited the services of current Wakefield-Trinity Wildcats coach, Brian Smith, to act as an advisor as the nation prepares for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup qualifiers.
Smith brings a wealth of coaching experience to the Serbian Rugby League, starting his first grade-coaching career with the Illawarra Steelers back in 1984.
Smith was in Serbia to assist the national team as part of their upcoming tour of Australia. The Australian tour will run from January 28 – February 8 with the visiting Serbians to play a series of games on the tour, including against the Philippines national team on February 5.
The tour will represent the first time a Serbian Rugby League team has visited Australia. Rugby League was first introduced into Serbia in 1953, however was later banned in the country in 1964. The sport returned in 2001 with the Serbian failing to qualify for the 2008 and 2013 World Cups.
Serbia will take part in the European Qualifiers for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in October, joining the likes of Wales, Ireland, Russia, Italy and Spain who will all fight it out for the remaining three spots.
Smith will assist with the Serbian’s preparations for this tournament working with the existing Serbia coaching staff. Serbian federation president Predrag Pantic said: “Brian has been on an official visit to Belgrade. While in the country, he attended a training session of the Serbian national team, who are in the process of preparing for a tour of Australia, and also visited our offices in the capital.
“We have agreed that he will take on an advisory role during preparations for the qualifiers and for the campaign itself in October 2016.”
Rugby League existed in Serbia from 1953 to 1964 and was reestablished in 2001.
The Serbian Rugby League National team are the 2015 Champions of the European Championship Group B (http://www.rlef.eu.com/european_shield), ahead of Russia, Italy and Ukraine.
The Serbian Rugby League National team has a great chance of qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup (in Australia, NZ, and PNG):
2017 Rugby League World Cup – European Qualifying Fixtures:
SERBIA in Group A with Wales and Italy:
Round 1 – 15 Oct 2016: Pool A – Wales v Serbia in Wales
Round 2 – 22 Oct 2016: Pool A – Serbia v Italy in Serbia
Teams finishing first in Groups A and B go straight to the RLWC 2017.
2nd Pool A v 2nd Pool B in a play off at Leigh, England, 4 November 2016, for the third European place at the RLWC2017.
The Serbian Rugby League National team have a planned Tour of Australia, from 28th January to 8th February.
– to participate in the Cabramatta 9s tournament, Saturday 30th January, Cabramatta
– to play an international game vs the Philippines, on Friday 5th February, Cabramatta
– to participate on Serbian Sydney Festival, 6th and 7th February
– to participate on St Sava Youth Festival, from 29th till 31st January
Tickets for the Serbia v Philippines Rugby League International can be purchased for $10 with children u16 free from https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/serbia-v-philippines-international-rugby-league-test-match-in-sydney-australia-tickets-20676940285 or on the day.
The goals for the tour are:
– to merge the best Serbian players with the best Serbian heritage players from Australia in order to form the best team for the European Qualifications;
– to activate/raise the interest of the Serbian Community for the (Q)RLWC 2017;
– to set up a fund for the Serbian heritage players to be able to come for the Qualifiers in Europe in October 2016.