Fri | Dec 2, 2022

Local rugby players set for World Cup taste

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2022 | 12:07 AMKeith McGhie - Contributor

Ashley Simon Brian Smith of Team Jamaica is tackled by Amalul Hazim Nasarrudin of Team Malaysia during a Men’s 13-16 semi-final rugby sevens match on Day Three of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Coventry Stadium in the Coventry, England on Jul
Ashley Simon Brian Smith of Team Jamaica is tackled by Amalul Hazim Nasarrudin of Team Malaysia during a Men’s 13-16 semi-final rugby sevens match on Day Three of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Coventry Stadium in the Coventry, England on July 31, 2022.

ALL FIVE rugby league players from Kingston’s domestic competition are likely to get a chance to make their mark during their stay in England, as Jamaica make final preparations for their World Cup debut in less than two weeks, according to lead coach Jermaine Coleman.

The quintet of Duhaney Park Red Sharks and Director of Rugby Romeo Monteith landed in Britain yesterday (Saturday) and go into ‘camp’ on Monday alongside the remainder of the 24-man squad, mostly chosen from England’s Super League, Championship and third-tier League One clubs.

But Coleman, who has overseen the nation’s preparations in Europe so far, insists that each of the islanders will get “significant game time” during the competition, and all are likely to play in the Reggae Warriors final warm-up game against north-west county side Cumbria next Friday.

“We discussed this as an organisation earlier and I think there’s a very good chance of some of them playing in the group stages,” said former London Broncos and London Skolars coach, Coleman.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

“It’s not just about us taking part (for the first time) this year. It’s about the future development of the game in Jamaica. So the legacy of this competition is important.

“There’s a good chance that they will play in all of the fixtures, some more than others, as it’s important that they experience the game at the highest level.

“They are all likely to play significant time on Friday against Cumbria, and we will probably name our side after our ‘captain’s run’ (final training session) the day beforehand.

“I still have to check how many players’ players (substitutes) we can field during the game, and what rules we are playing to.”

Chevaughn Bailey, Khamisi Mckain, Andrew Simpson, Marvin Thompson and Renaldo Wade all helped the Red Sharks win the National Club Championship for the sixth consecutive time, and eighth overall, through a 40-18 win over Washington Boulevard Bulls at The University of the West Indies, Mona Bowl, recently.

While looking forward to getting the whole squad together for the first time, Coleman admits that it was a massive blow that former World Cup finalist Kallum Watkins, who has had a steller season with Super League play-off contenders Salford this year, understandably has been recalled to the host county’s plans.

“We are disappointed as, at the start of the season, we were hopeful that an injury-free Kallum would be able to play for us, although we are all thrilled that he has been selected again by England.

“We have been unlucky in our selection process that we have also missed out on Dom Young (also chosen for England squad), plus Lloyd White, Jordan Turner and Izaac Farrell through injury.”

All have played at the highest level of the domestic game in either England or Australia’s NRL, but each had parental qualification to grace a Reggae Warriors’ shirt.

Jamaica, who qualified by beating the United States 16-10 to win the 2018 Americas Championship, face 2008 World Champions New Zealand, Ireland and Lebanon in Group C, with the top two nations progressing to the quarter-finals, en route to the World Cup Final at Old Trafford, Manchester - home of Manchester United FC - on Saturday, November 19.

Jamaica kick off their campaign against Ireland at Headingley Stadium, Leeds, on Sunday, October 16, with further group games in Hull (versus New Zealand on October 22) and Leigh (versus Lebanon on October 30).

Jamaica’s 24-man squad

Greg Johnson (Batley Bulldogs), AJ Wallace (Bradford Bulls), Aaron Jones-Bishop (Cornwall RLFC), Ross Peltier, Keenen Tomlinson (Dewsbury Rams), Chevaughn Bailey, Khamisi McKain, Andrew Simpson, Marvin Thompson, Renaldo Wade (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax Panthers) Ashton Golding, Michael Lawrence, Kieran Rush (Huddersfield Giants), Bradley Ho, Mo Agoro, (Keighley Cougars), Abevia McDonald (London Skolars) Joel Farrell, Ben Jones-Bishop (Sheffield Eagles), Joe Brown, Alex Young (Workington Town), Jacob Ogden (York City Knights), Jordan Andrade, Jy-Mel Coleman (unattached).