A host of debutants will be on show in this year’s Rugby League European Shield as the squads for the East were unveiled.
For the first time the competition – which kicks off at the end of the month - will be split regionally as the number of nations participating increases to six, three in each section.
Russia lead the way in the East with 18 potential new caps, Vereya supplying the bulk of their squad which also shows a greater variation of clubs represented.
Edgard Taturyan of the recently incorporated, Russian Association of Rugby League Clubs commented, “We are viewing this as an opportunity to show what new talent is coming through. Vereya’s players will lend experience but the other Moscow-based clubs can be proud that they are producing representative players.”
Vilmars Sokolovs, whose Latvians take on Ukraine on June 29, said his squad will be well prepared for their 2010 campaign as they face West Yorkshire Police in the build up.
Coached by wily John Risman, who has an envious record of developing national squads, they have named an initial train-on squad of 20 for the Shield and will add to it after the contest with the constabulary.
“We are trying to be even more competitive,” said Sokoloys “Our test game versus West Yorkshire Police will help us prepare and our good friend John Risman will get the best out of our boys.”
Reigning European Bowl champions Ukraine have named a 22-man squad for their Shield commitments that sees Artur Martirosyan’s men travel to Moscow for two fixtures in three days, taking on heavyweights Russia before meeting Latvia who they defeated 40-6 last July.
Martirosyan is relishing the step up in level. “We are looking forward to testing ourselves at this new standard,” he noted. “Dmitry Litvinov has played at a good level in Russia and his experience for us will be invaluable.”
“Legion XIII provide the bulk of our players, they are the Champions and the very first club in the Ukraine to play Rugby League, with no union background.”
Zakir Priznyakov (Kentavr, Moscow), Peter Botnarash (Lokomotiv, Moscow), Aleksey Abanin (Spartak, Moscow), Pavel Gribkov (Treshers, Moscow), Rustam Bulanov, Igor Chuprin, Vadim Fedchuk, Ilgiz Galimov, Sergey Gaponov, Anatoly Grigoryev, Sergey Konstantinov, Leonid Kozel, Denis Loshilin, Aleksander Lysokon, Igor Mokryakov, Kirill Nechaev, Aleksey Nikolaev, Vladimir Pavlechenkov, Sergey Pavlyuchenkov, Valentin Petrovskiy, Andrey Sevostyanov, Ruslan Sitbekov, Maksim Suchkov, Aleksander Vasilyev, Vladimir Vlasyuk (all Vereya) Edward Grygoryan ("Cristal", Rostov-on-Don), Evgeny Nepeyvoda, Mikhail Lugovoy, Mikhail Kudinov (all Dagestan University) Igor Zemlyakov, Anton Zakharchenko (both Rostov Civil Engineering University)
Coach: Edward Ososkov
Nauris BÄ“rziÅ†š, Ruslans KotÄ¼evs, Reinis Pepa (all RK Ezi), Sergejs Avdejevs, MÄris ÄŒeksters, Andreijs MeÄ¼Å†ikovs, Antons Oseledko, Andrejs Panasjuks (all RK Latgale), AinÄrs BÄ“rziÅ†š, Vigo Valdavs, DÄvis Zagorskis (all RK Livonia), Andris Andersons, Ä€ris Andersons, Roberts Ašmanis, Aldis Augstkalns, Leno Bramanis, Edgars CÄ«rulis, MÄris RobrÅ¾nieks, UÄ£is Rupainis, Viktors Silvoniks (all RK Miesnieki)
Coach: Vilmars Sokolovs
Pavel Petrovsky (Donbass Tigers), Aleksander Dotsenko (Gornyaki), Andrey Bashevskey, Pavel Kardakov, Aleksander Kozak, Sergey Kravchenko, Artem Lyubenskey, Vladimir Lobanj, Oleg Markhy, Vladimir Mashkin, Maksim Miroshnichenko, Sergey Romanko, Igor Shevtsov, Alexander Skorbach, Youry Smolin, Mikhail Troyan (all Legion XIII), Dmitry Litvinov (Nevskaya Zastava), Andrey Markelov, Aleksander Solonitsky (both Storm), Igor Yourkin (Tyfun), Dmitry Semerenko, Stanislav Semerenko (both UIPA)
Coach: Artur Martirosyan