Wales face Fiji desperate for their first Rugby League World Cup win in 17 years

‘We let ourselves down badly last time but are looking to make up for it with our first World Cup win for a very long time,’ says Wales captain Craig Kopczak

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Every World Cup has its fall guys and this time it appears to be Wales. Not only are they missing half a dozen of their leading Super League players – such as Lloyd White, Gil Dudson and Ben Flower – they also have the toughest schedule. Wales are among three nations (England and Ireland are the others) who have to play their three group games in three different cities across gigantic distances.

They started with a 50-6 thrashing to Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, are now preparing to face Fiji here in Townsville on Sunday and then head across the continent to Perth to play Ireland next week. As well as huge trips, Wales and Ireland have been unable to base themselves on one city or even one country. Every other team has had a base city. There has been no such comfort for John Kear’s men or their followers.

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