Regan Grace would prefer to earn a Great Britain tour spot in the autumn on merit and not because he is Welsh.

Lions coach Wayne Bennett’s squad is expected to be dominated by England stars with Wales, Ireland and Scotland having few serious candidates.

Port Talbot-bred Grace is among the non-English contenders to face New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

“There’s no point picking people for the sake of it,” said St Helens winger Grace.

“I’d rather you put your strongest team out.”

Rugby Football League’s director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield, has ruled out the selection of any token Welsh, Irish or Scottish player for the sake of multi-nationalism.

Sinfield has told BBC Sport: “I think it’s important we take that out of it.”

Grace agreed with that stance when asked how he would feel if picked because of his nationality rather than form.

“I’d rather it be the other way around, really,” replied Grace, who has scored 45 tries in 76 appearances for Super League side St Helens since 2017.

“You want to go with your strongest team.

“You want to win it at the end of the day, not try to make friends and stuff; just put your strongest team out.”

Grace says after playing for Wales and St Helens, facing New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea with the Lions would be “a massive step up”.

He added: “I’d just be unbelievably proud to represent [the Lions] because I was prouder than anything to represent my country, so to represent the nation would be amazing.

“Obviously I made my Wales debut before St Helens and it just gave me a big push, really.”

Players with British parents or grandparents who were born and bred in Australia and New Zealand are also under consideration.

Playing for Great Britain would not rule out any Aussie-born player from going on to play in State of Origin or for the Kangaroos, as the Lions do not have an official classification as a tier-one nation.

But Bennett has warned any antipodeans they must approach him and declare their commitment.

Wales has provided some glittering talent to GB teams in the past, including David Watkins, the only player to captain Wales and the Lions in both codes.

Other Welshmen to have made an impact for the GB Lions include Jim Sullivan, Billy Boston, Lewis Jones, Clive Sullivan, Jim Mills, John Bevan, Phil Ford, Jonathan Davies, John Devereux and Allan Bateman.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here