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Valley Cougars face Wales Students on Wednesday

31st March 2014, 06:28

Valley Cougars face Wales Students on Wednesday

Valley Cougars take on Wales Students at Penallta RFC this Wednesday (kick-off 6.30pm) in an important friendly match before both sides embark on their respective tournaments.

Valley Cougars take on Wales Students at Penallta RFC this Wednesday (kick-off 6.30pm) in an important friendly match before both sides embark on their respective tournaments.

 

Playing out of Penalta RFC this season, the Cougars will be flying the flag for Wales against English adversaries in the Conference South for the first time, while Wales Students will be spending the week leading up to Easter in Nottingham when they will be facing England, Scotland and Ireland in the Four Nations. Wales are holders of this Cup having lifted the trophy in Wrexham in 2012.

 

The Cougars will be playing a 15-match season this year and head coach Paul Emanuelli is aware that his charges will have to hit the ground running.

 

“This friendly match on Wednesday is very important to us,” he said. “We took on Wales Students last year before they played in the Student World Cup and we won the game.

 

“But we know it’s going to be more difficult this year with a number of South Wales Scorpions first team and Academy players in the side.

 

“This season will be a little bit longer than last year when we were just in the Welsh Conference, but as a squad we’ve matured over the last couple of seasons. We’ll be able to call upon a few players who were with us last time around – such as captain Gareth Way – and help some of the newer boys adjust to the step up.”

 

The Cougars return to Tier 3 of the RFL structure on the back of a Grand Final defeat having topped the Welsh Conference regular season in 2013. The club will again retain a presence within the Welsh Conference – fielding an ‘A’ team much like it did in 2011 when they competed in the now defunct Conference National.

 

Combining his post with a player/coach role at South Wales Scorpions, Emanuelli is determined to be competitive on all fronts this summer.

 

“Over the past couple of seasons, we’ve really developed the club,” he said. “Last season we could easily field two teams most weekends –which was an issue for me in terms of selection but great for the club as a whole. I’m hoping this year we will be competitive in both the Conference South and the Welsh Conference.”

 

Wales Students will go into this game on Wednesday looking for a win after a tough month of training under their new coach, the former London Skolars head coach and London Broncos assistant Latham Tawhai.

 

“Following this game against Valley Cougars, we’ll be naming the squad for the tournament,” Tawhai said. “The commitment from the lads thus far has been first class.  We have had two training weekends and everyone has stepped up to the mark. 

“The hardest part for now is going to be picking a final squad!  We've currently got a group of 28 players and we'll need to get that down to 20 which is what the tournament regulations stipulate.  That means some very tough decisions coming up as competition for all places is extremely tight.

“There is a good mix of players with vast experience in the Student National side and players new to the group.

 

“We’ve a good number of players with experience of playing in the Championship divisions so we've got a very solid base of players to build a team around.

 

“The Four Nations tournament is going to be extremely demanding both physically and mentally so their comfort zones are going to be tested to the limit. That’s why this Wednesday’s friendly game is very important to us as we know Valley Cougars will give us a good test.”

 

Issue 2 of South Wales Rugby League Magazine, which acts as a programme for the match and contains a full preview of both Valley Cougars and Wales Students, will be on sale at the ground.