Squad named for first World Cup qualifier

Wales begin their 2026 Rugby League World Cup campaign this Saturday when they take on Ireland at Cardiff University Sports Park in Llanrumney (kick-off 2.45pm).

It’s the first of two matches in a three-team group, the other team being the winner of the Italy v Netherlands game that also takes place on Saturday. Ireland host the winners of that match in May with Wales travelling to them in June.

The winners of the three-team group will then go straight through to the World Cup finals in 2026 whilst the group runners up will also have a second chance, as they’ll play off against the runners up of the other European group which contains France, Greece and Serbia.

Wales have selected a 19-player squad with five potential debutants – the Cardiff Demons quartet of Kim Boaler, Lucia Davies, Tara Finnegan and Chelcey Greasley plus Sheffield Eagles’ Agnes Wood.

Charlie Mundy and Kathryn Salter are both set to win their tenth cap, the duo being the only two ever-presents in the Wales side since its formation in 2019.

Head coach Thomas Brindle said: “I am very much looking forward to our first World Cup qualifier.

“Ireland and ourselves started playing at the same time with the same goal in mind, qualifying for the World Cup.

“We’ve had two tough battles so far, we’ve each won a game, and we expect it to be tough again on Saturday.

“We’ve been building to this point for the last three years, and we tested ourselves last year by playing France and England, to better prepare the team for this important game.

“Cardiff Demons, along with their coach Ian Newbury, have again done a fantastic job in producing players and competing at the highest levels in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, providing 14 players and four potential debutants, we believe the experience all of our squad gained by playing in the Cup will benefit the team.”

Wales will once again be captained by Leeds Rhinos’ Bethan Dainton.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out there with the squad and putting into practice everything that we have been working hard on in training,” she said. “We’re still searching for that 80-minute performance, which we’ve struggled with in previous matches.

“Training has gone really well. As always, the focus is completely on us and our preparations for this fixture. We don’t know too much about the Ireland squad but we know they’ll be similar to us, full of heart and desire. We have no doubt that it will be a tough fixture, but we’re super excited for the challenge ahead on Saturday.”

Admission to the match is £5 adults, £3 concessions with family tickets at £10.

WALES: Kim Boaler*, Katie Carr, Lucia Davies*, Shaunni Davies, Tara Finnegan*, Jasmine Gibbons, Chelcey Greasley*, Ffion Jenkins, Hannah Jones, Sara Jones, Charlie Mundy, Rhi Parker, Amy Price, Brittony Price (all Cardiff Demons), Ashlea Prescott (Featherstone Rovers), Bethan Dainton (Leeds Rhinos, captain), Kathryn Salter (London Broncos), Agnes Wood* (Sheffield Eagles), Georgia Taylor (York Valkyrie).

*Potential new cap