Iestyn Harris is keen to develop Welsh talent to help him in the Wales job
Iestyn Harris has included seven Welsh-born players in his first Super League Crusaders squad as the Welsh club ends his reliance on overseas talent.
The Crusaders had packed their squad with Australian and New Zealand players in their inaugural Super League season.
But new coach Harris feels the gradual introduction of Welsh talent off their conveyer belt is beginning to pay off.
"They've shown that they are ready to step up to Super League and their squad numbers reflect that," said Harris.
Harris has high hopes for forward Ben Flower, full-back Elliot Kear, stand-off Lloyd White and prop Gil Dudson, who were all members of his Wales' European Cup-winning team in November.
While other youngsters centre Lee Williams and back Jamie Murphy have been handed squad numbers in his 25-man squad along with veteran Gareth Thomas and former Welsh captain Jordan James.
"The young Welsh players have been tremendous this pre-season and I have really high hopes for them this year," said Harris.
The Welsh talent is starting to come through because they have learnt the game
Crusaders coach Iestyn Harris
"We've got eight or nine in the squad and they're going to get a lot of game time this year.
"Some of the Australian guys who started here two years ago and saw all these raw kids coming through from rugby union are now seeing them starting to compete and mix it up with them.
"And they're starting to get a little bit worried that they're going to take their place.
"I think that's a really healthy position to be in. The Welsh talent is starting to come through because they have learnt the game."