Flower to lead Welsh this Saturday

The Welsh have continued their philosophy of building for the future, after new coach, Iestyn Harris, named seven debutants in his nineteen man squad.

Ross Divorty from Featherstone, Christiaan Roets from the Bridgend Blue Bulls and the Celtic Crusaders’ quintet of Ashley Bateman, Elliot Kear, Lewis Mills, Lloyd White and Neil Budworth, could all be pulling on the Welsh jersey for the first time this Saturday pending on Harris’ final selections.

Harris, appointed yesterday as the Crusaders’ assistant coach, includes no fewer than 11 players from the engage Super League club for his first match in charge of the national side.

One of the eight non-Crusaders contingent is Rhys Griffiths, the son of Wales’ newly-appointed assistant coach Clive Griffiths who made his debut in last October’s 74-0 defeat by England at Doncaster.

He is one of 10 survivors from that 14-try hammering, which was Wales’ biggest ever defeat.

Veteran scrum-half Ian Watson, who turns 33 later this month, is set to win his 23rd cap and will equal the great Jim Sullivan’s appearance record if he goes on to play in all four games - including the European Cup.

“It’s just an honour to play every time I pull on that red jersey,” said Watson. “It’s a big thing for my family and me.

“My mum’s Welsh, and all my family are from Wales. I’ve had some great experiences playing for Wales in the World Cup against teams like Australia and New Zealand and playing in the Millennium Stadium. I’m proud to play for Wales.”

Wales will be led by Crusaders forward Ben Flower, who takes over from the injured David Mills.

Flower, who turns 22 next Monday, has skippered many sides in the past, from school right up to Newport Gwent Dragons age-group levels but this is his first international appointment.

“It’s going to be exciting being only a youngster myself,” he said. “For Iestyn to ask me to captain Wales was a dream come true.

“I’m looking forward to the game. I’ll try not to let Iestyn and the team down and I’m determined to do my best job on Saturday evening.”

Wales Dragons: M Barron (Gateshead), A Bateman (Crusaders), A Blackwood (Crusaders), N Budworth (Crusaders), G Davies (Crusaders), R Divorty (Featherstone), G Dudson (Crusaders), B Flower (Crusaders), R Griffiths (Warrington), J James (Crusaders), E Kear (Crusaders), C Kopzcak (Bradford), L Mills (Crusaders), C Roets (Bridgend), I Watson (Leigh), I Webster (Central Comets), L White (Crusaders), L Williams (Crusaders), R Williams (Warrington).