Knight makes rapid rise to World Cup

Joel Knight has been a regular for Havant in rugby union

Joel Knight has been a regular for Havant in rugby union

Alfie Rutherford. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Havant captain Joel Knight is about to display his skills on the international stage after being selected for the Wales Students World Cup squad.

It is a remarkable achievement considering that, this time last year, the 21-year-old had never even played rugby league.

Knight joined the Cardiff Metropolitan University side at the start of last season and made a dramatic impact from the start.

He equalled the all-time try record for the side, crossing for 21 tries, and helped his team to the Premier South League title.

Knight, who plays centre for rugby union side Havant, soon saw his exploits recognised by experienced Wales Dragonhearts coach Clive Griffiths who started to involve him in the training camps.

And now Knight is thrilled at the prospect of playing in next month’s Student Rugby League World Cup in England.

He said: ‘It is a great honour for me and a terrific opportunity.

‘All my rugby up until last season was of the union variety, having come through the Havant junior ranks.

‘When I started my sports conditioning course at university I still travelled back to play for Havant at the weekends.

‘That meant I couldn’t play for the university as they played their games at the same time.

‘A few of my friends were playing for the rugby league side in midweek and they persuaded me to get involved.

‘I went down to give it a go and took to it straight away.’

Knight added: ‘There are a lot of skill sets that can be transferred from one game to the other.

‘Fitness-wise, though, the league game is harder, with a lot more running because the ball is out of play less.

‘League is far more technical than I had thought, but the coaching we have received is top class.

‘Luckily, I picked it up quickly and I’m just really excited to be given a chance like this.

‘It is a fantastic chance to play on a bigger stage.’

The Student Rugby League World Cup tournament will be held from July 1-14 and features teams from all around the world.

In Wales’ pool are England, Ireland and South Africa, with the other pool made up of Scotland, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

The group games will be played across different RL Club Championship grounds in the north of England, with the final being played at Headingley – the home of Leeds Rhinos.

– KEVIN RICKETTS

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