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Wales captain Iestyn Harris
"We're hoping to go one better and get to the final this time"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 September, 2000, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Saints hold Wales' World Cup hopes
Keiron Cunningham and Anthony Sullivan
St Helens' Keiron Cunningham and Anthony Sullivan will be together for Wales
Five players from reigning Super League champions St Helens were included in the 24-man Wales squad for the Lincoln Financial Group World Cup.

Hooker Keiron Cunningham and wing Anthony Sullivan, who were in the team that lost to England in the 1995 semi-finals, are joined by fringe first-teamers Paul Atcheson, Gareth Price and Chris Smith.

Leeds captain Iestyn Harris - the only other survivor from that 1995 semi-final - will lead the Welsh, who open their campaign against the Cook Islands at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on Sunday, October 29.

Jonathan Davies, who captained his country in the 1995 World Cup, has been appointed Wales' ambassador for the tournament.

The Welsh also play dark horses Lebanon at Llanelli and the tournament's second favourites New Zealand at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in their group two matches - with two to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Iestyn Harris
Wales' hopes rest on the shoulders of Iestyn Harris
Wales will rely heavily on the mercurial Harris, who was named International Player of the Year in 1995 on the back of an impressive teenage debut on the big stage.

Lack of union

Coach Clive Griffiths - who five years ago was able to call on the likes of union stars Jonathan Davies, Scott Gibbs and Allan Bateman - has been forced to select a comparatively inexperienced squad.

He has chosen five players from the Northern Ford Premiership and six players who did not appear regularly in the first team for their Super League clubs in 2000.

Ten of the 24 players took part in last year's triangular tournament in which the Welsh were well beaten by Ireland and Scotland.

Making a return to the Wales squad is centre Jason Critchley, who was in the initial 40-strong squad in 1995 before missing the cut.

Critchley, 29, formerly with Keighley and Castleford, is now back playing rugby union with Leicester, but made seven Super League appearances this year with Wakefield Trinity.

Grandparents rule

Harris' Leeds team-mates Anthony Farrell and Paul Sterling will make their Welsh debuts after using the grandparental qualification rules to switch their allegiance.

Back-row forward Farrell, 31, played for England against Wales five years ago while winger Sterling - at 36 the oldest player in Super League - was in the Emerging England team that beat Wales in 1998.

Griffiths was unable to call on Martin Pearson, the former Halifax stand-off currently serving a drugs ban, and Castleford's Australian hooker Aaron Raper, who is injured.

Wigan's new stand-off recruit, former Test player Matthew Johns, declined an invitation, but Wales have acquired the services of Australian duo Kris Tassell (Salford) and Mick Jenkins (Hull).

They have also been boosted by the availability of Canberra Raiders front-row forward Justin Morgan, whose grandfather was born in Merthyr Tydfil.


Wales squad: Paul Atcheson (St Helens), Lee Briers (Warrington), Dean Busby (Warrington), Garreth Carvell (Hull), Neil Cowie (Wigan), Jason Critchley (Leicester RU), Keiron Cunningham (St Helens), Wes Davies (Wigan), Barry Eaton (Dewsbury), Anthony Farrell (Leeds), Damian Gibson (Halifax), Karle Hammond (Widnes), Iestyn Harris (Leeds, capt), Paul Highton (Salford), Mick Jenkins (Hull), Justin Morgan (Canberra), Chris Morley (Sheffield), Gareth Price (St Helens), Chris Smith (St Helens), Paul Sterling (Leeds), Anthony Sullivan (St Helens), Kris Tassell (Salford), Ian Watson (Widnes), Dave Whittle (Leigh)

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See also:

22 Sep 00 |  Rugby League
St Helens shock Bradford at death
23 Sep 00 |  Rugby League
Rhinos charge past Tigers
22 Sep 00 |  Rugby League
Oldham sign Farrell brother
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