Kopczak a candidate for skipper role

PA Sport
Former Bradford forward Craig Kopczak is a candidate to be Wales' captain
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Former Bradford forward Craig Kopczak is a candidate to be Wales' captain

Controversial forward Craig Kopczak is in contention to captain Wales after being elevated to a four-strong leadership group ahead of the 2013 World Cup.

The 25-year-old's future at club level is uncertain after he quit Bradford on the eve of their final game of the Super League season but he has been cleared to play for Wales in Saturday's international against France in Lens.

Kopczak, who joins Ben Flower, Jordan James and Neil Budworth on Iestyn Harris' leadership panel, has not played for more than six weeks but is relishing the opportunity to represent his country once more.

He is also confident the furore over his walkout at the Bulls, which prompted an investigation by the Rugby Football League, will not affect his performance against the French.

"Definitely not," Kopczak said at the team's base in north Wales. "Hopefully it will get resolved soon. I'm champing at the bit to play. I've been keeping training and it's a great feeling to be back with the boys."

Kopczak, who qualifies through Welsh grandparents, missed Wales' mid-season defeat by France because of an ankle injury but, as one of the senior players, is a candidate to take on the captaincy for the games against France and England.

"Craig is committed to Wales Rugby League," said head coach Harris. "He was fantastic for us last year and he's desperate to play.

"He's on our leadership group which is going to be important for us going forward to the World Cup. The captain will come out of that."

Kopczak's former Bradford team-mate Elliott Kear and Wigan forwards Flower and Gil Dudson are also set to return after sitting out the game in Wrexham in June due to injury.

But Wales will be without record tryscorer Rhys Williams, who has pulled with a knee injury, and forward Jake Emmit, who were both members of the team that won 12-11 on their last visit to France two years ago.

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