30th June 2011, 11:55
Wales and Ireland name squads for Saturday clash
Wales Dragonhearts travel to Tom Clifford Park in Limerick this Saturd
Wales Dragonhearts travel to Tom Clifford Park in Limerick this Saturday (kick-off 2pm) to take on Ireland Wolfhounds in the first match of their campaign to try and win back the Cheltenham Regency Trophy.
Wales have won this Conference Home Nations tournament seven times in the last nine years. Scotland are the current holders.
It will be a new look team that runs out on Saturday as, along with a new Team Manager and coaching set-up, 14 players could also make their Dragonhearts debuts.
Player-coach Craig Fox and his assistant Mike Healy have named a 19 man squad to take over to Ireland and only five have represented the team before.
Fox has been a regular in the side for a number of seasons while his Blue Bull team mates Gareth Howells, Grant Epton and Nathan Hawkins along with Titans half back Kristian Hawkes have all played over the past two years.
But 14 others in the squad will be getting their first experience. The bulk of the new boys, and the squad come from the newly formed Bonymaen Broncos with seven players in the 19 while Titans duo Rhys Meredith and Dale Tucker will join team-mate Hawkes.
Torfaen Tigers have two players in the side with Rhys Miller and Jamie Williams also both making their debuts while Blue Bulls duo Andy Milne and Lloyd Ryland and Cougars centre James Allen could also win their first caps after impressing with their clubs.
The Dragonhearts also have a new captain in Gareth Howells. It is his third year with the side and he is delighted to be leading his country.
"I'm really proud to take on the role of team captain for the Wales Dragonhearts," he said. "Being given the captaincy was a massive honour for me and its a proud moment every time I wear the Welsh jersey. I look forward to leading the team in what will hopefully be a successful tournament with Wales bring home bring that trophy home."
Looking ahead to the game, player-coach Fox said "Training has gone really well. We have a great team which was very hard to pick as there are so many good players in the Welsh Conference. We have selected a squad of 19 as we think it is essential we have players to come in if anyone gets hurt in warm up and our starting 13 will be announced to players tomorrow (Friday).
"We are expecting a very tough match, we beat them convincingly at home last year but they deservedly won in Dublin in 2009 after they got off to a good start. That's something we have to make sure they don't do this weekend."
A victory in Ireland will make Wales favourites to regain the Home Nations Trophy with home games against Scotland and England to come.
The Ireland Wolfhounds squad has also been announced with eight members of the squad being part of the victorious Donnybrook Cup side which beat the USA Tomahawks in March.
Wales: Richard Williams (Bonymaen Broncos), Grant Epton (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Robbie Ford (Bonymaen Broncos), Gareth Howells (Bridgend Blue Bulls), James Allen (Valley Cougars), Lloyd Ryland (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Nick Clancy (Bonymaen Broncos), Kristian Hawkes (Newport Titans), Ian Brooks (Bonymaen Broncos), Craig Fox (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Rhys Meredith (Newport Titans), Nathan Hawkins (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Rhys Miller (Torfaen Tigers), Jamie Williams (Torfaen Tigers), Richard Murphy (Bonymaen Broncos), Andy Milne (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Neil White (Bonymaen Broncos), Richard Brooks (Bonymaen Broncos), Dale Tucker (Newport Titans)
Coaches: Craig Fox, Mike Healy
Team Manager: Simon Green
Physio: Rhodri Davies
Ireland: Sean Carmody (Treaty City Titans), David Parkhill (Strangford Sharks), Willy Stewart (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs), Joe Keane (Treaty City Titans), Mark Tuohy (Treaty City Titans), Ian Cross (Treaty City Titans), Shane Mullally (Treaty City Titans), Brendan Guilfoyle (Treaty City Titans), Brian Flanagan (Dublin City Exiles), Aaron McCloskey (Treaty City Titans), Graham Taylor (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs), Alan Trenier (Dublin City Exiles), Lemaki Veipulu (Treaty City Titans), Rob Stapleton (Cork Bulls), Stephen Corr (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs), Simon Deevy (Athboy), David Dunne (Athboy), Alan McNamara (Treaty City Titans), Mark O'Neill (Treaty City Titans), Tom Palmer (Ballynahinch Rabbitohs).