England Rugby League and the RFL have announced the coaching staff to lead the new England PDRL (Physical Disability Rugby League) Lions team on home soil at the first ever PDRL World Cup in 2021.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation PDRL Player-Coach Dan Roberts has been appointed as an Assistant Coach for the England PDRL team and will work alongside Head Coach Shaun Briscoe, the former England and Hull FC full-back, and Team Manager John Welch.
Roberts, a junior rugby league coach at his local community club Drighlington ARLFC, is a founder member of the Rhinos PDRL team and has been almost ever-present since captaining the side in their inaugural match with Warrington Wolves back in 2018, the first PDRL fixture to be played on these shores.
Buoyed by the side’s growth during the first 12 months under his captaincy, the 34-year-old accepted the offer to step up into a Player-Coach role when Disability Coordinator and previous Head Coach Chris Godfrey left the Foundation before the start of the 2019 season.
A successful first campaign at the helm followed, with Roberts leading the side to a top thee finish and a place in the first PDRL League Finals Day, hosted by Leeds Rhinos Foundation at Selby RUFC. He was also part of the Rhinos outfit which defeated Warrington Wolves in a PDRL Exhibition for over 30,000 fans at last year’s Super League Dacia Magic Weekend, held at the iconic Anfield Stadium.
Having been closely involved in the rapid development of Physical Disability Rugby League in England, Roberts says it will be a huge honour to represent his country and play his part in showcasing the sport on an international stage.
“When I got the call and found out that I’d been appointed as an Assistant Coach I couldn’t quite believe it really, I felt like a kid at Christmas,” said Roberts.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to be involved in the first England PDRL Lions squad and to be given the opportunity to coach my country at a World Cup is a huge achievement that I’m immensely proud of. This is something which is beyond my wildest dreams and definitely never crossed my mind when I first got involved with PDRL at Leeds Rhinos Foundation nearly three years ago.”
“I can’t wait to get started now and I’m excited to work alongside some of the immense talent we have in the PDRL game. This is a landmark moment for our sport and there is no doubt in my mind that the first ever PDRL World Cup will be a fantastic platform to promote PDRL to a wider audience and an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.”
The formation of the PDRL Lions over recent months follows the development of other Community Lions teams at Under-16s, Under-18s, Under-23s, Open Age and in the Women’s game, providing opportunities for those in Community Rugby League to represent their country at the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Development, said: “As a Development team at the RFL, we’re particularly proud of the progress made in recent years both by our Community Lions, and by PDRL.
“Both exemplify the direction and spirit of inclusivity and aspirational playing opportunities the sport has to offer. So the fact that they have come together is a perfect fit.
“We have run a thorough recruitment process to form this coaching team, and were delighted by the quantity and quality of interest shown. Headed by Shaun Briscoe, who has such a genuine commitment to PDRL, it comes with a wealth of knowledge.
England PDRL Lions – Coaching and Management team
Head Coach – Shaun Briscoe
Team Manager – John Welch
Assistant Coaches – Michelle Melling and Dan Roberts
Sports Rehabilitor – Jessica Law
Sports Therapist – Rebecca Adam
Kit & Logistics/Player Welfare – Pete Longbottom
For more information about Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s PDRL team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or CLICK HERE.