Rugby League stars prepare to defend World Cup
The military’s top rugby league stars – including seven Royal Navy players – gather in Portsmouth on Monday so they can take on the world again.
It’s my opinion that this squad has the potential to be the best team we have ever fielded.WO1 Wayne Okell
A 27-strong squad has been selected to take on the Aussies, Kiwis and Serbs for the Armed Forces Rugby League World Cup – a trophy the UK holds after the last competition in Australia back in 2008.
A five-day training camp at HMS Temeraire is being held to prepare the team – 24 core players, plus three reserves – for the international clashes which all take place at Colchester Garrison in Essex between June 30 and July 13.
Flying the flag for the RN are LPT Steve Lockton (HMS Collingwood); LAET Lewis Taylor (Yeovilton), a veteran of the 2008 triumph; AET Tommy Wilkinson (Culdrose); Mne Kitione Kamikamica (42 Commando); ET Mike Haldenby (HMS Illustrious); AB(WS) Darren Bamford (HMS Dragon); and, in reserve, LAET Richie Metcalfe (Yeovilton).
Overseeing efforts to hold on to the trophy is head coach – and mainstay of Royal Navy rugby league – WO1 Wayne Okell, who masterminded the 2008 win (including defeating the hosts twice on their home turf, which was nice).
He’s whittled down an initial 51-strong squad over three months of intensive training and believes the 27 who’ve made the final selection could comprise the strongest team ever to don the coveted GB shirt.
“Selection has been very intense and extremely close. I can honestly say it’s produced a fit, strong and smart bunch of individuals that fit the profile for the team we are looking to create,”
said Wayne, who’s based at HMS Temeraire.
“Indeed it’s my opinion that this squad has the potential to be the best team we have ever fielded.”
The tournament features a mini-league format feeding two semi-finals ahead of the final itself on July 13.
The Great Britain-Australia clash on July 6 will be graced by flypasts and the Parachute Regiment’s Red Devils dropping in to deliver the match ball, while the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will appear overhead before the final seven days later.
Entry to all the games is free for spectators.
The full fixture list is:
Sunday June 30 (Budd VC Gymnasium, Berechurch Road)
2.30pm GB vs New Zealand
5.30pm Australia vs Serbia
Wednesday July 3 (Budd VC Gymnasium, Berechurch Road)
3.30pm GB vs Serbia
6.30pm Australia vs New Zealand
Saturday July 6 (Garrison B Ground, Circular Road North)
11am New Zealand vs Serbia
1.30pm GB vs Australia
Wednesday July 10 (Budd VC Gymnasium, Berechurch Road)
4pm 1st Place vs 4th Place
7pm 2nd Place vs 3rd Place
Saturday July 13 (Garrison B Ground, Circular Road North)
You can find out more about the tournament at http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/combinedservicesrl/
TAKE A LOOK
HMS Calliope, Newcastle
HMS Scotia, MoD Caledonia, Hilton Road, Rosyth. KY11 2XH
Royal Albert Hall, London. SW7 2AP
Royal Albert Hall, London. SW7 2AP
HMS Forward, Birmingham
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