South Wales Scorpions have named an 18-man squad for their first Kingstone Press Championship 1 game of the season this Sunday when they take on Oldham Roughyeds in their first in their new home at Maesteg RFC (kick-off 3pm).
The squad includes five potential club debutants in Jordan Sheridan, Dafydd Hellard, Kyle Scrivens, Paul Emanuelli and Alex Randall, while Owain Davies and Dan Parry will hope to get their senior side debuts after coming through the junior ranks in South Wales.
Osian Phillips misses the game through injury while Alan Pope, Shaun Owens and Jack Pring have long standing commitments and are unavailable.
Emanuelli, also the new assistant coach at the Scorpions, can’t wait to step up after playing successfully for a number of years for Valley Cougars.
“The boys are really starting to get excited for Sunday,” he said. “It's going to be a huge challenge for the side and myself personally, against one of the favourites for the league.
“The short pre-season we've had has been good and things are coming together nicely. With it being an all Welsh squad, the atmosphere is getting better and better each week.
“We go into the game with no-one giving us a chance but as a group we are confident in what we can achieve on Sunday.”
There is a piece of nostalgia that links Sunday’s two clubs together as a street in Oldham is named after Kevin Sinfield’s great uncle, who was a rugby player from Maesteg!
Maesteg RFC was the rugby union club from which the great Charlie Winslade came north to sign for Oldham in 1950 at the age of 19, later marrying Sinfield's grandad's sister.
One of the club’s all-time best, he played 358 games for Oldham in his 11 years there, forming a second-row with Sid Little which was the envy of every club in the game.
He represented Wales and Great Britain during a heady period in which Oldham were crowned Rugby League Champions in 1957 (equivalent to Super League now) and won the Lancashire Cup three years in a row.
A master of the shoulder-charge, he ended his career at Warrington, but his heart was always at Watersheddings, Oldham’s old ground. Following his death in 1993 his ashes were scattered on the pitch and one of the streets that now forms a housing development on the site of the old ground is called Winslade Close in his memory.
SCORPIONS (from): 1. Jordan Sheridan, 4. Kyle Skrivens, 5. Chris Leyshon, 6. Paul Emanuelli, 9. Connor Farrar, 10. Chris Vitalini, 11. Barrie Phillips, 12. Phil Carleton (captain), 13. Ashley Bateman, 14. Mike Connor, 15. Owain Davies, 17. Rhys Fitzgerald, 18. Harrison Elliot, 19. Alex Jones, 21. Dan Parry, 22. Dafydd Hellard, 23. Alex Randall, 24. Matt Wilcox