Former Titans U20s star in Wales squad

Gold Coast's Josh Ralph is among three debutants named by Wales coach John Kear for the 2017 rugby league World Cup, fulfilling a long-held goal for the young Australian.

Ralph joined the Titans as a 17-year-old and had two seasons in the NYC side, scoring 13 tries in 12 matches in 2016.

Now aged 20, the talented halfback plays for Tweed Heads in the Queensland Cup but says in his introductory profile on the Titans website his goal was "to go onto play for Wales".

In July this year he was named in a 38-man train-on squad for Wales and on Tuesday, Kear made it a step further for the Runaway Bay Seagulls junior.

Ralph told the Wales Rugby League website he was extremely proud of his Welsh heritage.

"My grandmother was Welsh, so that's how I qualify," he said.

"Unfortunately, she passed away before I was born and when my dad was young, so it means a lot to both him and I."

Kear has named 13 of the 17 players who featured in Wales' qualifying victory over Italy last October along with new faces in Ralph, Halifax centre Chester Butler, who is the grandson of former Wales international Colin Dixon, and Salford's new signing Gavin Bennion.

London Broncos prop Ben Evans returns for the first time since the last World Cup in 2013 but his twin brother Rhys, the Warrington centre, is ruled out after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.

There are also places for St Helens duo Regan Grace and Morgan Knowles, who were both shortlisted for the 2017 Super League young player of the year.

Other injury absentees are Ben Flower, Jake Emmitt, Lloyd White, Ollie Olds, Calvin Wellington, Daniel Brown and Anthony Walker while Gil Dudson, Larne Patrick and Dan Fleming are unavailable.

Wales' hopes of including Leeds' grand final hero from last weekend, Stevie Ward, were dashed due to a shoulder injury.

"I'm really happy with the squad that I've got for the tournament," Kear said.

"We've had withdrawals - some because of injury and some for personal reasons - but the lads who are going are showing a great deal of desire to represent their country.

"We've not won a World Cup match since 2000. We didn't qualify for the 2008 World Cup and we didn't win a game in 2013.

"It's a long time between World Cup wins but we're unbeaten in six matches and the main goal is to get that first win. There's then nothing to say that we can't get out of the group and make the quarter-finals."

Wales will fly to Brisbane next Tuesday for a training camp ahead of their opening game against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on October 28.

Wales' 24-man squad is: Courtney Davies, Steve Parry (both Gloucestershire All Golds), Chester Butler (Halifax), Danny Ansell (Hunslet), Sam Hopkins (Leigh), Michael Channing, Ben Evans, Dalton Grant, Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (all London Broncos), Matty Barron (Newcastle Thunder), Joe Burke (Oldham), Gavin Bennion (Rochdale), Craig Kopczak (Salford, captain), Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles), Andrew Gay, Christiaan Roets (both South Wales Ironmen), Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Ben Morris (all St Helens), Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton), Josh Ralph (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Phil Joseph (Workington), Matty Seamark (Wynnum Manly Seagulls).

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