Serbia has included three debutants in their 22-man squad for the forthcoming 2017 Rugby League World Cup European Pool A Qualifiers against Wales and Italy.
Wests Tigers’ Daniel Burke, alongside Jordan Grant and James Mirceski are included together with stalwart Ilija Radan who debuted in 2011 and played in the qualifiers for the 2013 World Cup.
Over half the squad are selected from domestic clubs with four coming from champions Dorćol, the most successful team in the competition with 13 titles, and a further quartet from current First Division leaders, Red Star.
Recently appointed head coach Ljubomir Bukvić said from Belgrade, where the squad are in camp before travelling to Wales in a week’s time: “After thorough consideration, this is currently our best squad available.
“We’ve been working for almost a whole year in drafting our heritage players for this historic chance to get to the World Cup for the first time.
“Some were part of our tour to Australia earlier this year but we also have some debutantes coming in. They will bring more experience to our core players that come from domestic clubs.”
Dalibor Vukanović again captains the side and former junior European judo champion Vladica Nikolić, who currently plays for Villeneuve in French Elite 1, is also included.
SRLF general secretary Slobodan Manak, added: “We would like to thank all of our heritage players on their efforts to represent Serbia and their backing in our quest to be a part of the rugby league elite.
“Due to differing circumstances we couldn’t count on all of them in this qualifying series but everyone approached is keen to back us.
“Both Tom and Jake Trbojević had a very hard NRL season as did Tom Opačić. Unfortunately, Nikola Čotrić’s club commitments didn’t make him available but we are excited to welcome our newcomers.
“Jordan Grant will join his older brother Chad, who debuted for Serbia in our successful warm-up international in Spain.
“We are more than satisfied with our current selection and we know that our squad will represent Serbia with pride and passion.”
SERBIA 22-MAN SQUAD:
David Andjelić (Blacktown St Patrick’s), Reece Grkinić (Cabramatta), Daniel Burke (Collegians), Jason Muranka (Dewsbury Rams), Dalibor Samardžić, Dalibor Vukanović, Stefan Nedeljković, Stevan Stevanović (Dorćol), Joshua Marjanović (Kawana Dolphins), Džavid Jašari, Vlado Kušić (Partizan), Pero Madžarević, Žarko Kovačević (Radnički Nova Pazova), Miloš Ćalić, Miloš Zogović, Vladislav Dedić, Vojislav Dedić (Red Star Belgrade), Chad Grant (St Clair Comets), Vladica Nikolić (Villeneuve XIII Leopards), James Mirceski (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jordan Grant (Wests Tigers), Ilija Radan (unaffiliated)