South Wales Scorpions have announced a 23-man squad for their 2010 Championship 1 season with the promise of more players to be signed in the near future.
The Scorpions play their first ever match on Sunday 21 February, a friendly against Super League side Wigan Warriors at The Gnoll in Neath (kick-off 2.30pm).
The squad was selected following a public full contact trial match between “The Greens” and “The Reds” which the Greens won by 5 tries to 2 (no conversions were taken) where over 200 fans turned out to watch with many buying both tickets for the Wigan Warriors game and season tickets on the night.
As expected, almost half of the Scorpions squad are players who have come through the junior and reserve ranks at the Crusaders, but there are a number who are new to the area, the country or rugby league itself.
In rugby league terms, Loz Wildbore could be the club’s highest profile signing. The experienced 26-year old full-back or winger arrives in Wales from York City Knights. Hull-born, he has also had spells at Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Widnes Vikings, Featherstone Rovers, Doncaster and Dewsbury Rams.
Craig Richards returns to The Gnoll after a spell with Stourbridge RFC. The former Neath RFC winger and Wales Sevens RU and Commonwealth Games international played a few games for Celtic Crusaders in 2007 and has also turned out Newport, Llanelli, Coventry and Bridgend in the 15-man game.
The Scorpions have brought in one overseas import in Welsh-Australian Andrew Gay from Toukley Hawks RLFC who play in the Central Coast Rugby League in New South Wales. Welsh qualified, his dad was born in Splott in Cardiff, he was the Hawks player of the year in 2008.
There are three players who have been signed from Welsh Rugby Union clubs - Stephen Ireland, Neil Dallimore and Sam Studley.
Ireland comes to the Scorpions from St Peters in Cardiff, but he has also had lengthy spells at Cardiff RFC and Newport RFC in the Welsh Premiership, while Neil Dallimore and Sam Studley both arrive from Llanharan RUFC. For all three players, it will be their first taste of club rugby league, but Studley has previously turned out for Wales and Great Britain under 18s after attending an open trial in 2006. His first ever competitive game of rugby league was for Great Britain under 18s against Australia! Following these games, he went back to rugby union but has now decided to give the 13-man game another try.
Six players have been signed from local Welsh Conference Premier rugby league clubs – Phil Cushion, Steve Parry, Paul Boden, Alan Pope, Shawn Owens and Christiaan Roets.
Cushion and Parry sign from Nelson-based Valley Cougars, Boden adds the local flavour to the side after arriving from Neath Port Talbot Steelers, Pope has signed from Dinefwr Sharks in West Wales while Owens and Roets previously played for Bridgend Blue Bulls.
The South African born Roets started his rugby league at the now defunct Swansea Valley Miners. He was a surprise selection for the Iestyn Harris’ full Wales side late last year and immediately starred, scoring a hat-trick on his debut against Serbia winning man of the match in the process. He scored a further try against Scotland two weeks later as Wales won the European Cup Final live on Sky Sports.
Cushion played for Valley Cougars last year, but spent three years at the Crusaders before that making 47 first team appearances and winning two full Welsh caps. He had previously played for Swinton Lions.
Roets and Cushion are two of five full Welsh internationals in the Scorpions squad with fellow Dragons Lee Williams, Ashley Bateman and Gil Dudson, all of whom have Crusaders first team experience, also being named.
Loren Quick, Lewis Reece, Joe Burke, Jamie Tibbs, Barrie Phillips, Dalton Grant, Garrick Legge and Harri Greville have all come through the ranks at the Crusaders in their under 18s and Super League reserves with Quick and Reece already becoming the Scorpions first ever international players after turning out for Wales under 18s against England two weeks ago.
Wales won that game 28-14 and they now take on France at Carmarthen Athletic this Sunday at 2pm. They have also both been selected for the Great Britain under 18 squad who take on France on Wednesday 17th February at Blackwood RFC.
The Scorpions will also be able to use British-born Crusaders players who are not in their Super League side in any particular week.
The club’s first social night out was yesterday (Sunday) where in a unique link-up, South Wales Scorpions were official sponsors of the Elite Ice Hockey League match between Cardiff Devils and Edinburgh Capitals. The club hope it will be the first of many such link-ups with the Devils and other local sports sides.
Tickets for South Wales Scorpions v Wigan Warriors or season tickets can be bought by going to www.scorpionsrl.com or calling 01656 863896.
FULL SCORPIONS SQUAD: Ashley Bateman (Crusaders), Paul Boden (Neath Port Talbot Steelers), Joe Burke (Crusaders), Phil Cushion (Valley Cougars – former Crusaders), Neil Dallimore (Llanharan RU), Gil Dudson (Crusaders), Andrew Gay (Toukley Hawks, Australia), Dalton Grant (Crusaders), Harri Greville (Crusaders), Stephen Ireland (St. Peters RU, Cardiff), Garrick Legge (Crusaders), Shaun Owens (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Steve Parry (Valley Cougars), Barrie Phillips (Crusaders), Alan Pope (Dinefwr Sharks), Loren Quick (Crusaders), Lewis Reece (Crusaders), Craig Richards (Stourbridge RU), Christiaan Roets (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Sam Studley (Llanharan RU), Jamie Tibbs (Crusaders), Loz Wildbore (York City Knights), Lee Williams (Crusaders).