Scorpions trio to be given Crusaders opportunity

South Wales Scorpions’ trio Aled James, Joe Burke and Dalton Grant have been called up on loan for Crusaders’ Super League side for the Hull Kingston Rovers match at The Racecourse this Saturday (kick-off 3pm) in the wake of the suspensions announced by Crusaders earlier today.

Aled James, who has been captain of South Wales Scorpions since inception and this year, as Player Performance Manager for Wales Rugby League, has been one of the people responsible for the development of up and coming Rugby League youngsters in South Wales including the Crusaders under 15, 16 and 18 sides.

He will be making his Wrexham Super League debut but it will be his 23rd senior Crusaders appearance.

James started his rugby league at Cardiff Demons before he was signed by Widnes Vikings in 2003, who were then in Super League. He signed for Sheffield Eagles in 2004, then returned to Wales to play for the Crusaders in 2006.

The 29-year old made his Wales debut against Russia in 2003 and has since won 11 Welsh caps and was in the Wales side that beat France 12-11 last year to qualify for this season’s Four Nations.

“It’s like a fourth Crusaders debut for me,” said James. “I started in the Crusaders in the first season in 2006. I went back into rugby union for a bit with Glamorgan Wanderers and then I came back in 2008 and 2009 and played some Super League.

“Then earlier this year I played in pre-season friendlies for Crusaders. No matter how many times I feel that it was my last game for Crusaders, I keep coming back.”

It may be Joe Burke’s and Dalton Grant’s Crusaders Super League debuts but both have played for the club in the past at junior levels.

They were both in the Crusaders under 18 side in the 2008-09 season that won the Gillette National Youth League. They both played in 18 of the 19 games and were the top two try scorers that season, Grant with 15 tries and Burke with 12.

For Joe Burke, it’ll be his second appearance at The Racecourse. The up and coming Scorpions star won enough accolades last season to be selected for the Wales side that took on Italy last October where Gareth Thomas scored on his Welsh Rugby League debut.

He also turned out for the Crusaders first team in pre-season friendlies earlier this year at Widnes Vikings and Catalan Dragons, both of which ended up in Crusaders wins.

A solid 21-year old prop, Burke is tipped for a bright future in the game and is looking forward to his potential Super League debut.

“It’ll be really good,” he said. “It’s been hard work with the Scorpions this year but we’re all trying hard and it could have been a number of players picked for the Crusaders so I just need to take my opportunity.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to play for Crusaders against Widnes and Catalan in pre-season friendlies, those were both really good experiences and will hopefully this will help me in Saturday’s game.”

Dalton Grant, like James and Burke, has been at the Scorpions since inception but he only broke into the first team this year.

And since then he has been a revelation. Ten tries in his nine games has meant that the 21-year old is second highest try scorer for the Scorpions this season behind Andrew Gay, and he is grateful for finally getting his Scorpions chance this year and where it has led him.

“It feels really good,” he said. “I think I’ve done pretty well with the Scorpions so far this season. Obviously the boys have helped me a lot. I’d love be full time Super League one day and this is a good stepping stone for me.

“Being in a full-time Rugby League environment will be massive for me. It’s something I’ve never done before and being around Super League players and being coached by Iestyn Harris will really help me in my career.”

Grant wishes the Scorpions side luck as they travel to Whitehaven this Sunday (kick-off 1pm) and knows that more tries for Andrew Gay will put him further ahead in the try scoring ranks.

“I’ll have to try and catch up with him again when I’m back at the Scorpions,” he added.


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