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Dom Young still a maybe for Reggae Warriors but no lack of experience




Jamaica have come a long way in the world of rugby league. Their participation in this World Cup is the culmination of years of development work on both sides of the Atlantic, with a domestic competition on the island and deep-rooted work in the large Afro-Caribbean community in the north of England.

Though the Reggae Warriors played their first game over a decade ago, it is only in this qualification cycle that they have been able to pull together their best possible team and cap that off by making the tournament proper.

It comes at the best possible time, too. With games in Leeds, they’ll have a huge support behind them, with the city’s West Indian community sure to show out and bring a carnival – literally – atmosphere.

OK, carnival is actually Trinidadian in origin, but for my sins, a lot of my student nights were spent in Leeds West Indian Centre and I can guarantee you that this will be a party.

I spent plenty of time in Leeds Irish Centre too, and when those two nations meet on the opening Sunday of the tournament, it promises to be one of the best games of the group stage.

Their group, with Ireland, Lebanon and New Zealand, will be a challenge. Ireland have a better squad man for man, Lebanon have two undoubted superstars in Mitchell Moses and Adam Doueihi and the Kiwis are the Kiwis. But Jamaica will fear no one.

On the field, they will have a lot of Super League talent, and plenty of it will have played together too. Dominic Young thinks that he is playing for England, so they will be shorn of their biggest star, and Will Pryce is one generation too far down, and might have been their second biggest. With that in mind, let’s go through who will actually take to the field.

Certainties

There’s a lot of Jamaican talent in Super League that has been itching for this chance to shine. Ashton Golding, Ben Jones-Bishop and Michael Lawrence have been around for years and will get their chance on the biggest stage.

Jordan Turner has been kicking about so long he came through the grades with a certain spotty teenager now writing for living in the Oldham and Rochdale junior set up. He was a gun then and is now, and will provide all the nous in the world from the halves.

Luis Johnson has impressed this year for Hull KR and deservedly goes to the World Cup. Lloyd White of Toulouse played for Wales in 2013 but is of Jamaican descent and has expressed a wish to switch for this tournament.

Aaron Jones-Bishop, brother of Ben, played in the qualification and will play again, Wayne Rettie has been about for a million years on the UK domestic scene and so has Lamont Bryan, now down in the third tier at London Skolars but with more experience than most teams on his own.

Probables

The West Yorkshire connection runs deep. Levi Edwards has impressed on loan from Leeds at York and will make the squad with teammate Jacob Ogden.

Izaac Farrell, his brother Jacob and Kadeem Williams are all in from Sheffield Eagles, while AJ Wallace and Brad Ho come from Bradford.

Ross Peltier – once a Green Party political candidate – heads up the Dewsbury contingent along with Jon Magrin and Keenen Tomlinson, Heavy Woolen rivals Batley provide Greg Johnson, Halifax give halfback depth through James Woodburn-Hall and Keighley have Mo Agoro, who has turned out consistently for Jamaica.

Oldham will provide Jordan Andrade – watch out for his sister, Savannah, if she gets picked for England – and London Broncos have long-term halfback option Jy-Mel Coleman.

Possibles

Kallum Watkins played in the last World Cup Final for England – who can forget that ankle tap? – and will turn out for his heritage if not called upon by England this time around.

Shaun Wane likes him, but with Mark Percival and Herbie Farnworth likely to have a lock on the centre position and Watkins in the twilight of his career, he might prefer to add experience to Jamaica.

Workington duo Joe Brown and Alex Young are options, as are Trae O’Sullivan and Delaine Bedward of Midlands Hurricanes. Abevia McDonald will go up with any PNG Hunter for the best name in the tournament if picked, as would Jamaica domestic player Khamisi McKain.

The Jamaica domestic comp just finished and will provide plenty of potential players for the squad, but while I will happily congratulate Duhaney Park Red Sharks for their triumph, it is quite hard to judge if any of their players will get picked. The Reggae Warriors have not been shy to pick players from their own comp in the past, however, so watch out.

Predicted Squad

1 Ben Jones-Bishop
2 Aaron Jones-Bishop
3 Greg Johnson
4 Kadeem Williams
5 Wayne Rettie
6 Jordan Turner
7 Izaac Farrell
8 Michael Lawrence
9 Lloyd White
10 Ross Peltier
11 Levi Edwards
12 Luis Johnson
13 Ashton Golding
14 Jy-Mel Coleman
15 AJ Wallace
16 Lamont Bryan
17 Jordan Andrade
18 James Woodburn-Hall
19 Brad Ho
20 Jacob Ogden
21 Mo Agoro
22 Joe Magrin
23 Joel Farrell
24 Calvin Wellington





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