St Helens winger Regan Grace hoping to inspire Welsh youngsters

Regan Grace. Picture: SWPix
Regan Grace. Picture: SWPix

St Helens winger Regan Grace is hoping to emulate Port Talbot's most famous son by playing for Great Britain.

The 22-year-old Welshman is one of the fancied candidates from outside the England squad in with a chance of forcing his way into coach Wayne Bennett's party for the end-season tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Grace believes his selection would provide a huge boost for rugby league in south Wales, having witnessed at first hand the knock-on effect of Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard's success on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

"It would be massive," Grace said. "There's only one person that I know from my town that has made it as a Great Britain Lion and that's Richard Hibbard who is like a God in our town.

"It's the top isn't it? It's the biggest stage.

"There'll probably be kids in Wales that will look up to you and decide to do what I did and follow the league route instead of conventional union which everyone else wants to do.

"I just wanted to do something different and chose to have a go at league. Hopefully it inspires kids to do the same.

"Now it's getting selected, hoping the people watching are thinking you're good enough to be a part of it."

Grace played a handful of games for the Ospreys' Under-16s side before being invited for trials at St Helens.

He made a tryscoring Super League debut in the Good Friday derby against Wigan in 2017 and has not looked back since, having scored 45 tries in 76 appearances, including 16 in 19 so far this year.

Grace helped Wales to victory in the 2015 European Championship and played in all three matches at the 2017 World Cup, including a memorable one against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

Grace witnessed close up the passion for the game in Papua New Guinea, where rugby league is the national sport, and would love to return there with Great Britain in November.

"It's a tough place to go before you even start playing," he said. "It was tough with the heat and everything and the fans being on top of you.

"They're just loud from start to finish, they absolutely love the game. They look at you as if you're immortal.

"It's really good to see, it gives you another perspective on the game."

Grace could also be involved with Wales in the World Cup Nines, which takes place in Sydney on October 18-19, a week before the Lions tour kicks off against Tonga in Hamilton.

"I think that type of game would be suited to me," he said. "It would nice to do both."