By: Phil Caplan, Date:14/6/13

The Czech Rugby League Association has announced a 35-man train-on squad as they prepare to defend the European Bowl for the second successive year. The squad is heavily influenced by the country’s oldest club, Lokomotiva Beroun, which is undefeated in 20 games and supply 11 players to a squad that also reflects the steady progress in local development.

“We are excited to play against such strong opponents in Norway and Ukraine; we are keen to compare ourselves with them in what is going to be probably the biggest international year for Czech rugby league,” said national team captain Petr Sedina.

A number of new, young players have also been called up. Prominent among those will be Hradec Kralove’s Ladislav Cintler and Chrudim Angels Marek Pluhar, two young halves who, according to CZRLA Development Manager Andy Mulhall, “are developing into legitimate playmakers” and will be vying with veteran Jan Buben to fill the void left by the departure of incumbent Victor Leeuw.

Pluhar’s Angels teammates Vita Caslavka and Jiri Pecina have also forced their way into the squad after impressive efforts for the Second Division league leaders, while Beroun’s flying winger Dalibor Smotek is available again this season. Another youngster expected to stake a claim is the 2012 Milan Mrtynek Medallist as man of the match in the Grand Final, Tomas Kristof.

“We understand both games are going to be incredibly demanding,” continued Sedina, “and we expect our final selection to show the passion and spirit so we can keep our heads high regardless of the score at the end of the competition. That is what the CZRLA is about.”

The CZRLA’s preparation will comprise a number of camps and trial matches as the coaching staff work towards a final squad for their opening game in Oslo on 13 July. The squad’s preparations culminate in a match against Serbia U20 in Vrchlabi on 29 June. The Czech Republic hosts Ukraine in the final game of the 2013 European Bowl on 29 September. The winners of the Bowl will be promoted to the 2014-15 European Shield.

Jan Buben, Vitezslav Drazka, Michal Hora, Tomas Kristof, Jakub Ludvik, Vojta Pekarek, Jan Sluka, Jiri Sluka, Dalibor Smotek, Jiri Suchopar, Honza Vitek (Beroun), Vita Caslavka, Marek Pluhar, Jiri Valek (Chrudim), Peter Cap (Havlickuv Brod), Ladislav Cintler, Pavel Vavra (Hradec Kralove), Otto Friedl, Karel Hudec, Vaclav Jacko, Pavel Vrana, Petr Sedina, Pavel Zemanek (Mikulov), Jiri Novak, Vitezslav Rejda (Pardubice), Martin Pokorny (Praha), Antonin Berk, Jaroslav Bzoch, Vaclav Fisher, Jan Zelezny (Teplice), Stanislav Kosar, Pavel Kubasta, Marcel Novak (Vrchlabi)