Norge RL has named a 26-man train-on squad for their European Championship C – North opening fixture, in the Czech Republic on June 16 – the first match on the road to the 2021 World Cup in England.
Head coach Dave Hunter’s squad is drawn from a record 11 clubs, nine from the domestic game, illustrating the growth of the sport’s popularity in the country in recent years. “We have recently had our national team trials where over 40 players looked to impress the coaching staff,” said Hunter. “The selected squad includes five newcomers and we have chosen two Norwegians from outside, Kristian Nordin-Skipnes from Woden Valley Rams in Australia and youngster Kristian Hilton from Saddleworth Rangers in the UK. Both players will add some professionalism to our squad.”
The largest representation comes from last year’s domestic winners Stavanger Storm, contribute five players to the squad, whilst Flekkefjord Tigers veteran Kristoffer Milligan will again lead the team.
“The coming games are of a massive importance to us,” said Milligan, who debuted for the Vikingene in 2011. “Being World Cup qualifiers has given everyone a boost and it’s definitely raised some eyebrows about how far we have progressed.
“We can see it on the horizon and everyone has a little bit of hope that maybe we can do it. This year’s try-outs were the hardest I have ever attended and a lot of quality players missed out on the initial squad. The management have put commitment requirements on everyone and you can really tell that the game is progressing and the level of every player is increasing,” he added.
Trondheim’s Ole Magnus Brekk agreed: “We’ve been working hard on fitness and are ready to play,” he said. “Having the qualification coming up is positive for the clubs in Norway, more people are interested in playing rugby at higher levels and that will get the best out of our players. The game against the Czech Republic is a big one for us, I can’t wait.”
NORWAY 26-MAN TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Sjur Strand, Bendik Kalvik (Bodø Barbarians), Ole Magnus Brekk, Kristian Paulsen, Frank Kiriinya, Simon Viljoen (Trondheim Rugby Klubb), Kristian Hilton (Saddleworth Rangers) Sonny Mellor, Reidar Flage, Joshua William Skidmore Hornby, Lucas Zuniga (Lillestrøm Lions), Kristoffer Borsheim, Ravn Arivdsønn, Nathan Cummins, Fredrik Nortun, Ezra McIntyre (Stavanger Storm), Kristian Nordin-Skipnes (Woden Valley Rams), Harald Mikalsen, Kristoffer Milligan (Flekkefjord Tigers), Arne Oma Torsen, Kevin Båtnes, Chris Stalsberg, Nils Kristian Holte (Porsgrunn Pirates), Kim Andre Seglem (Sandnes Raiders), Isaac Schmidt (Oslo Capitals), Mathias Vada Stenseth Holm (Sparbu Lumberjacks)