Date: 25/10/16

Defeat in Wales and at home to Italy spelled the end of Serbia’s hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and what would have been their first global finals.

Undaunted, SRLF general secretary Slobodan Manak has already begun planning for their next tilt in 2021.

“Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome of the World Cup qualifiers,” he said from his offices in Belgrade. “But it was a such a long and eventful journey over these last three years that we will take all the positives out, learn lessons and build on that in the future.

“On behalf of the SRLF, I would like congratulate both Wales and Italy on their well-deserved wins. We were never closer to qualifying for the World Cup but, ultimately, we need to work harder. Project WC2021 started for us as soon as the game against the Azzurri ended on Saturday.

Manak continued: “First we have to maintain the level of play from the last European Championship B, which we won. Competitive international experience is essential for developing our domestic players. Our plan is also to promote to the senior side new young players from our U21 squad and possibly the U18s too, they should be in their prime by 2021.

“Another key element is to further develop our good relationship with our heritage players and draft them in as often possible to play for Serbia. We are totally committed to our ultimate goal of getting to the World Cup and are as determined as ever to achieve our dream.”