World In Waiting: Regan Grace still in Wales squad and NRL star commits to Ireland

1 Aug 2022

World In Waiting: Regan Grace still in Wales squad and NRL star commits to Ireland

By Steve Mascord


First tackle

HE suffered a worrying knee injury yesterday and has decided to switch codes - but St Helens winger Regan Grace is still in Wales’ World Cup ‘long list’ squad.

Grace, 25, has signed for French rugby union side Racing 92 and was reported to be joining them immediately his Super League commitments conclude. Yesterday, during the  champions' 44-12 defeat to Salford, he collapsed without a hand laid on him, clutching a knee.

But even if his Saints career is curtailed, it does not necessarily follow Grace's rugby league tenure is at an end. While Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff isn’t putting his house on Grace playing in the World Cup, he said at this stage the wing star has not withdrawn and remains on the squad list submitted to tournament organisers.

“I’ve spoken with the heritage and eligibility team who have confirmed that there hasn’t been an official withdrawal from Regan so he’s still on our long list,” Juliff said.

“Regan is a very popular team player but he isn’t realistically in our plans, though we would love him to rock up, of course.

“Thankfully we are well covered on the wings. 

“Similarly we have (Australia international) Tyson Frizell as an outside bet but are not holding our breath on Tyson’s decision either.”

Saints coach Kristian Woolf said of the Grace injury: "When you fall over without anyone touching you is usually a bad sign."

Forward Frizell has six Wales caps and 14 for the green-and-golds. 

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“He was in our team last week but there was a massive drugs bust. Since he’s a maritime lawyer, he had to pull out.”

So says London Skolars chairman Adrian Fraine of second rower Adam Vrahnos, the Greek international who scored two tries on Saturday in the 46-6 win over Cornwall at New River Stadium.

Vrahnos, who practises law in London, was first identified as a future international a decade ago while playing junior reps for Canterbury Bulldogs, by Greek rugby league pioneer Terry Liberopoulos.

He hopes it will all come together in October and November. We’ll speak to him later this week.

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Canberra Raiders superstar Josh Papalii haș chosen Samoa over Australia.

Australia coach Mal Meninga told AAP Papalii, who has played 11 times for the green-and-golds and has four Samoa caps, had advised him of his decision.

But Parramatta’s Junior Paulo, who has nine Samoa caps but is yet to play for Australia, has gone the other way. Fiji-eligible Reagan Campbell-Gillard - an Eels  club-mate of Paulo's - is also in Meninga’s sights.

"Josh has indicated he wants to play for Samoa and Junior has opted for Australia," Meninga said.

"Junior and Reagan had a terrific start to the year and that's why they got picked in the Origin team and their back end to the year will be really important (to get selected).

"Reagan only played one Origin game but he's definitely in contention."

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Leeds’ Tara Moxon doesn’t want to talk just yet about her selection for the PNG Orchids.

Moxon lived in Rabaul until she was 12. Her mother is from there while her dad is from Yorkshire. She’s been named in an extended Papua New Guinea squad for the World Cup.

But because she is currently focused on re-establishing herself after suffering a broken ankle in a Challenge Cup semi-final last season, Moxon doesn’t want to put more pressure on herself by talking about the World Cup publicly.

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Rugby League Ireland sponsor and official Rory O’Hara has been in Australia checking in on some of the stars who will be lining up for the Wolfhounds in the men’s World Cup.

Amid the controversy surrounding Manly’s rainbow jersey at Brookvale on Thursday night, Sydney Roosters star Luke Keary made his allegiances clear by posing with an Irish flag with Rory and members of his family.

Rory and clan also caught up with Wests Tigers Henry O’Kane who is another likely squad member.

Other players in Irish plans are NSW Cup player James Hasson, Gold Coast prop Jaimin Jolliffe, Canterbury hooker Josh Cook, Wigan forward Harry Rushton, Hull KR threequarter Louis Senior, his brother, Wakefield’s Innes and Huddersfield centre Toby King.

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We finish where we started - with the Wales men’s team.

In the latest BBC Rugby League podcast, Ian Watson recalls a team meeting before the famous semi-final against Australia in 2000 which the Dragons led at halftime.

“One of the players organised us all going out on a Tuesday night,” Watson, who with 30 has the most caps for Wales. “We had training on the Wednesday and the first meeting we had, Clive (Griffiths, coach) gave us a really rollicking because we’d all been out. 

“…telling us ‘do you think Australia, they’re all out partying on a Tuesday night, the week of the semi-final of the World Cup’

“Lee Briers stood up and went ‘yeah, because I was out with them last night’. He ended up bumping into them and Clive had nowhere to go. He just started laughing as well.”

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