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Lebanon and Scotland have named their provisional squads as the rugby league World Cup nears. Both nations are set to feature a host of seasoned NRL players.
Lebanon Cedars coach Brad Fittler has named five NRL regulars in his 40-man train-on squad headlined by Rabbitohs hooker Robbie Farah, who last represented the nation in 2002. Joining Farah in the line-up are Eels duo Tim Mannah and Mitchell Moses, Wests Tigers rookie Alex Twal and Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa.
They are joined alongside five domestic players, with Imad Chidiac (Jounieh), Wael Harb, Raymond Sabat (both Lycans), Ali Abou Arabi (Tripoli) and Toufic el Hage (Wolves) all named. The group all appeared in the test against Italy played in Hadath in June, when the Cedars came out 6-4 victors courtesy of a Jeffery Tohme try.
In that match both Sabat and el Hage were particularly impressive, raising their hopes of a potential spot in Fittler’s final 24-man squad with at least one domestic player to be included.
The Cedars qualified for their first World Cup since 2000 having defeated South Africa, and the majority of their squad featured in a 24-4 victory over Malta in Cabramatta back in May. The squad’s familiarity with each other should prove helpful in their campaign which pits them against host nation Australia as well as powerhouses England and France.
The likes of Josh Mansour and Reece Robinson may yet join them with their eligibility still awaiting confirmation.
Brad Fittler spoke following the announcement of his train-on squad saying, “Lebanon’s strong community support will provide the squad with great confidence in the World Cup.
“It is going to be a great occasion for Lebanon rugby league and Lebanon as a country in general.”
Lebanon play a warm-up against Niue at Leichhardt Oval on 14 October and will take on Australia and England in Sydney, with both matches expected to draw large crowds in support of the Cedars.
Lebanon 40-man squad
Ali Abou Arabi (Tripoli RLFC), Danny Barakat (Wentworthville Magpies), Mario Boustani (Blacktown Workers), Ben Chahoud (Hills Bulls), Imad Chidiac (Jounieh RLFC), Jamie Clark (Auburn Warriors), Mark Daoud (Asquith Magpies), Adam Doueihi (South Sydney Rabbitohs), James Elias (West Newcastle), Ahmad Ellaz (Auburn Warriors), Robbie Farah (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Toufic el Hage (Wolves RLFC), Wael Harb (Lycans FC), Bernard Kairouz (Wests Tigers), Kayne Kalache (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Nick Kassis (Blacktown Workers), Andrew Kazzi (Wests Tigers), Anthony Layoun (Parramatta Eels), Michael Lichaa (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Bilal Maarbani (Manly Sea Eagles), Mitchell Mammary (Wentworthville Magpies), Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels), Josh Mansour* (Penrith Panthers), Raymond Maroun* (Penrith Panthers), Tarek el Masri (Wentworthville Magpies), Abbas Miski (North Sydney Bears), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Raymond Moujalli (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Reece Robinson* (unattached), Travis Robinson* (Newtown Jets), Chris Saab (Blacktown Workers), Raymond Sabat (Lycans FC), Jaleel Seve Derbas (Wests Tigers), Elias Sukkar (Wentworthville Magpies), Alex Twal (Wests Tigers), Jason Wehbe* (unattached), Christian Yassmin (Wests Tigers), Abraham el Zakhem (Auburn Warriors), Elie el Zakhem (Auburn Warriors), Adnan el Zbaidieh (Auburn Warriors)
Steve McCormack’s Scotland Bravehearts squad has been bolstered by the addition of five NRL regulars, with Peter Wallace returning to the fold alongside Euan Aitken, Joe Wardle and Cowboys duo Lachlan Coote and Kane Linnett.
Skipper Danny Brough will bring experience in guiding an experienced forward pack starring the likes of Danny Addy, Dale Ferguson, Ben Hellewell, Ben Kavanagh and Adam Walker.
Of the 24 players in McCormack’s squad for last year’s Four Nations tournament 22 have been named in the initial squad, with only Tyler Cassel and Billy McConnachie missing out.
Scotland have been drawn in the ‘group of death’ against Pacific powerhouses Samoa and Tonga as well as New Zealand, who they drew 18-all in Workington last year.
Scotland provisional squad
Danny Addy (Hull KR), Euan Aitken (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ryan Brierley (Toronto Wolfpack), Sam Brooks (Featherstone Rovers), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Brett Carter (Barrow Raiders), Lewis Clarke (Moore Park Broncos), Lachlan Coote (North Queensland Cowboys), Davie Dixon (Keighley Cougars), Luke Douglas (St Helens), Liam Faughlin (Maitland Pickers), Dale Ferguson (Huddersfield Giants), Ben Hellewell (London Broncos), Liam Hood (Leigh Centurions), Ben Kavanagh (Hull KR), Kane Linnett (North Queensland Cowboys), Frankie Mariano (Featherstone Rovers), Joe McClean (Gloucestershire All Golds), Ryan Maneely (Rochdale Hornets), Kieran Moran (York City Knights), Will Oakes (Hull KR), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Calum Phillips (Workington Town), Scott Plumridge (Mittagong Lions), Sheldon Powe-Hobbs (Northern Pride), Matthew Russell (Warrington Wolves), David Scott (Batley Bulldogs), Lachlan Stein (Penrith Panthers), Oscar Thomas (London Broncos), Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons), Adam Walker (Wakefield Trinity), Alex Walker (London Broncos), Jonathan Walker (Darlington Point Roosters), Peter Wallace (Penrith Panthers), Joe Wardle (Newcastle Knights), Brandan Wilkinson (Bradford Bulls)
In other news for international rugby league, the 2017 Jillaroos Interstate Challenge Merit Team has been named with 19-year-old rookie Jessica Sergis headlining a host of familiar names following New South Wales’ 22-6 win over Queensland.
Jillaroos Merit Team
1. Samantha Bremner, 2. Karina Brown, 3. Isabelle Kelly, 4. Corban McGregor, 5. Jessica Sergis, 6. Caitlin Moran, 7. Maddie Studdon, 8. Ruan Sims, 9. Brittany Breayley, 10. Heather Ballinger, 11. Kezie Apps, 12. Jenni-Sue Hoepper, 13. Simaima Taufa
14. Ali Brigginshaw, 15. Elianna Walton, 16. Lavina Phillips, 17. Vanessa Foliaki
Sergis’ three-try performance puts her in good stead to make her Jillaroos debut ahead of the World Cup in November.