The Czech town of Vrchlabi has World Cup fever with the national side taking on Norway there on Saturday in the opening game in European Championship C – North, which also doubles as the first match in the 2021 RLWC qualifiers.
The hosts have named two debutants, local Dominik Machek from Mad Squirrels, Vrchlabi, and Mikulov Rooster Roman Pavelek who is likely to get a pace on the bench.
Czech Republic player/coach Ladislav Cintler commented: “To be part of the World Cup qualifying tournament is a major step for Czech Rugby League and our players. The core of the team has been playing together for a couple of years now but overall we are a very young squad who are hungry to play in these games.
“I am also lucky to be able to count upon the experience of veteran hooker Petr Sedina and his drive and passion influencing our younger guys. We are hoping to give our home crowd something to cheer about.”
Stavanger Storm pair Fredrik Nortun and Ezra McIntyre are set to make their bows for the visitors alongside Trondheim Rugby Klubb’s Frank Kiriinya, whilst Ole Magnus Brekk – who scored a hat-trick in Norway’s 30-26 win in Krupka last October – is also included.
“Facing the Czechs again will no doubt be a tough battle. They gave us 80 minutes of hell last year and I expect nothing to be different,” said Vikings skipper Kristoffer Milligan. “I am happy with our structure. Stamina played a big part in last year’s clash between us and we have been working hard to raise their own standards.
“ We have a stronger team this year, we are more balanced and morale is high. We have a better team spirit than ever and we travel to the Czechs with confidence knowing we can get the job done.”
CZECH REPUBLIC 19-MAN SQUAD
Oldřich Chrbolka, Patrik Koliska, Ondřej Preininger, Tomáš Řičica (Chrudim Rabbitohs), Pavel Mikeska (Hodoním Black Angels), Filip-Daniel Kittl (Krupka Dragons), Lukáš Krištof, Pavel Mejstřík (Lokomotiva Beroun), Dominik Mechek, Aleš Pour (Mad Squirrels Vrchlabí), Roman Pavelek, Adam Petržela, Petr Šedina (Mikulov Roosters), Tomáš Adamec, Ladislav Cintler, Richard Gach, Jan Heininger, Jan Mudroch, Filip Špaček (Slavia Hradec Králové)
NORWAY 19-MAN SQUAD
Bendik Kalvik (Bodø Barbarians), Ole Magnus Brekk, Frank Kiriinya, Simon Viljoen (Trondheim Rugby Klubb), Sonny Mellor (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), Kevin Båtnes, Chris Stalsberg, Nils Kristian Holte (Porsgrunn Pirates), Kim Andre Seglem (Sandnes Raiders), Isaac Schmidt (Oslo Capitals), Mathias Vada Stenseth Holm (Sparbu Lumberjacks)