Wales confirm squad for USA tour

Wales Wheelchair head coach Alan Caron has released his 10-player squad that will travel to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to play full international matches against USA on February 2-3.

They will be the first world-ranking matches that Wales Rugby League has ever played in the Americas, the first time that the Wales Wheelchair side has ever played outside of Britain and France, the first Wheelchair international matches to be played in the Americas and the first two international rugby league matches planned anywhere in the world in 2024. The matches will be the main event at the inaugural “The Beers of America – Craft Beer & Adaptive Sports Festival” in conjunction with Visit Myrtle Beach Tourism.

The squad contains eight of the 12 players who were in the World Cup squad in 2022. These include 2023 Super League Grand Finalists Jodie Boyd-Ward of Leeds Rhinos and Martin Lane of Wigan Warriors, both of whom scored tries in the match that Wigan won 50-42.

There are three others in the side who played Super League this season – Scott Trigg-Turner who turned out for London Roosters, whilst Mason Baker and Stephen Halsey both played matches for Warrington Wolves. All three were dual registered from North Wales Crusaders, with Halsey’s contribution included in his mammoth 82 tries and 221 goals in all competitions this season.

The other three from last year’s World Cup are Harry Jones of North Wales Crusaders, who is the world record Wheelchair RL cap holder, plus Gary Preece of Hereford Harriers, who was the top points scorer in this year’s WRL Wheelchair Invitational League, and his club-mate Andrew Higgins, who is Wales’ record international goals and points scorer.

Torfaen Tigers’ Alex Powell, who made his international debut against Ireland earlier this year, is also included, as is Hereford’s Phillip Davies, who won five caps for Wales in 2019.

Wales head coach Alan Caron said: “This really is going to be a special tour for Wales Rugby League. To be playing in the first Wheelchair international matches outside of Europe and Australia is going to be very historic. I feel I’ve picked a strong squad who will be able to give the USA a side a good game, and we know how good they are from their performances in the World Cup where they gave us a good game and beat a more experienced Scotland side.

“But the tour isn’t just about winning matches, we’ll be doing coaching sessions for players, coaches and match officials and we’ll be attending domestic matches over in South Carolina. We stayed in the same hotel as the USA side in the 2022 World Cup, so this tour is a continuation of a friendship between the two sides and long may it continue.”

Wales Wheelchair, who are a community-run side, are still raising money for the air-fares to get to the USA. Please donate to the Welsh cause now by going to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/walestouroftheusa.

For sponsorship opportunities, please email andy.morgan@walesrugbyleague.co.uk

Wales Wheelchair Squad: Phillip Davies, Andrew Higgins, Gary Preece (all Hereford Harriers), Martin Lane (Hereford Harriers/Wigan Warriors), Jodie Boyd-Ward (Leeds Rhinos), Harry Jones (North Wales Crusaders), Scott Trigg-Turner (North Wales Crusaders/London Roosters), Mason Baker, Stephen Halsey (both North Wales Crusaders/Warrington Wolves), Alex Powell (Torfaen Tigers).

Travelling Staff: Alan Caron (Head Coach), Gary Taylor (Assistant Coach), Stephen Jones (Team Manager), Alana Sargent (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Ian Golden (Media Manager), Kim Abel (Referee).

For more information on the Wales squad, please go to https://rugbyleague.wales/wheelchair-player-records