|AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLBOYS Vs WALES U 19's
26/11 THE WALES UNDER 19 RUGBY LEAGUE side face their toughest test of the year on Sunday when they face the highly rated Australian Schoolboys side at Blackwood RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).
For the Australians, this is their first outing in a gruelling seven-match tour of Europe and will be determined to start their campaign with a win.
But as they don’t leave Australia until Wednesday 22nd November, Wales Team Manager Ross Olney (pictured right) believes that his inexperienced but determined side can catch their potentially jet-lagged visitors on the hop.
Olney said: “We’ve got a pretty strong squad which I believe is one the best we’ve had at this age level. We’ve trained hard and are very positive about the match. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and the lads are determined to put in a good performance.”
Wales will select the side from a squad of 27 that includes nine players who are new to the sport and don’t currently play for a rugby league club.
Their experience will come from the ten survivors from Wales’ six-nation European Championship campaign in July in France, where they finished fourth. These include Chris Vitalini, Oliver Hughes, Lee Williams and Daniel Phillips who were on Celtic Crusaders books as Academy players this year and Matt Barron who is the same at fellow National League Two side Keighley Cougars. Meanwhile local fans will be hoping that Blackwood Bulldogs’ Nick Tucker will make his international debut.
Olney explains: “We had an open trial to bring in some new blood and mix the squad together. Some of them are some highly skilled solid rugby union players who have taken to the sport like a duck to water. I’m sure they’ll all be playing for clubs come next summer and they won’t let us down if selected.”
The Australian Schoolboys side have one of the best records in rugby league. Since their inception in 1972, the Australian Schoolboys side have won 97 out of their 104 matches.
But five of those seven defeats have been in the last four years. Last time they toured the UK four years ago, they were solidly beaten 2-0 in the Test Series against Great Britain, the England Academy famously beat them 33-24 in their own backyard in 2004, while they will travel to Wales on the back of a 46-8 drubbing by New Zealand.
However they mustn’t be taken lightly as the Australian Schoolboys side have a history of producing notable test players including Alan Langer, Kevin Walters, Laurie Daley, Brad Mackay, Dean Pay, Terry Hill, Jim Dymock, Jason Smith, ET and Nick Kosef. (Source : Cymru RL)