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THE BIG YEAR IS OFF AND RUNNING!

29th January 2013, 17:31

THE BIG YEAR IS OFF AND RUNNING!

WALES CAPTAIN KOPCZAK PREVIEWS A SEASON THAT STARTS NOW AND ENDS IN THE WORLD CUP

By Gary Baker

 

WALES captain Craig Kopczak (pictured) is aiming to have a big Super League year with new club Huddersfield Giants before leading the nation out at the World Cup in October.

 

Kopczak, 26, lead Wales for the first time during the Autumn Tests against France in Lens and England at Wrexham. But to be the man in the hotseat at the World Cup would be a real honour, said the prop forward.

 

Which is why he is determined, as the rest of the Welsh Super League contingent, to pull out all the stops for his team before re-joining national coach Iestyn Harris and the rest of the party to prepare for their opening game with Italy at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on October 26.

 

Kopczak said: "It has been fantastic to be captain and it's been one of the biggest honours of my career. All the boys have contributed massively to helping me with this.

 

"We have played against the best in the world already in the Four Nations (in 2011) and again against France and England last year so we know what has to be done in the World Cup and it's a case of it all clicking together."

 

Wales have not just Italy but the United States and the Cook Islands in their group so, therefore, have a great chance of progressing to the knock-out stages.

 

And, if they win that group to reach the quarter-finals, they more than likely be up against either Australia or England at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground on November 16. They don't come much bigger than that!

 

Kopczak admits it is a huge challenge for the Welsh squad but, then again, in 2000, few rated their chances however they reached the World Cup semi-finals and gave the Aussies a major fright before going down to defeat.

 

"The spirit within our group has been pretty good since day one when I joined," added the prop. "Wales have done well in World Cups in the past so we want to bring those years back to Wales again."

 

Of course, Kopczak is the on-field voice of Harris and his lieutenants that, last Autumn, included legendary captain Lee Briers. So their pre-match tactical meetings are crucial to the cause.

 

Kopczak is all ears in those talks, adding: "I am there with Lee and Iestyn but it is just about putting their ideas together to take on the pitch. What Iestyn says, goes and we have that faith and trust in him to do what we are told.

 

"In the World Cup, we need to be one hundred per cent on top of everyone we play against. If we can do that, then we can get to the knock-out stage and anything can happen there."

 

Wales will play an international friendly again during the summer against France which will give Kopczak and co the chance to rekindle the team spirit and the national captain said: "It's all looking good for Wales."