Rugby League World Cup: England's Declan Roberts sees the wheelchair final as an 'amazing opportunity' to continue the sport's growth
England’s Declan Roberts hopes the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup final can have a lasting impact.
Tom Coyd’s side face France at Manchester Central on Friday evening (K.O. 7.30pm).
Roberts states it’s important for wheelchair rugby league to continue the momentum it’s picked up in the last few weeks.
He said: “Looking back to 2008 there was hardly anyone in the sports hall for a World Cup final, so to have it on live tele and hopefully pack it out will be an amazing opportunity.
“As a lover of the game it’s good to see how it’s growing, so we need to keep it going into the final and beyond.
“Coming into it us and France are world number one and two, and we’ve shown we are still in those positions.
“It’s the final a lot of people were hoping for, and I think it’ll be an amazing advert for the sport because it’ll be on another level in terms of the physicality and pace.
“It’s certainly something new for me but I’m looking forward to it. We are feeling pretty ready as a squad and we’re looking forward to getting stuck in.
“We’ve been building since we came together two and a half years ago. We make sure we work on ourselves as well as our game.
“Our hotel is literally across the road, so I can see the venue. Every time we see it, it fires us up a little bit and gets us all ready.
“The support has been really surreal. When we went down to London we weren’t expecting massive crowds, so it was amazing to have 3,000 plus to each game.
“The atmosphere has been outstanding, it’s like nothing any of us have ever experienced.
“It’s been pretty crazy. I’ve been playing for 10 years, I’ve been a fan for even longer, so being able to get the sport out there is amazing.
“Being able to get so many different people involved is a massive part of why the game works.
“It’s obviously very fast and very skillful, but so many people from so many different walks of life are able to show how skillful they are.
“It’s an opportunity you wouldn’t be given anywhere else and that’s something that makes our sport unique.
“We’ve billed it as the most inclusive World Cup, and it definitely is.
“It’s been surreal to see the different England teams play on our home turf, giving everyone the same audience.
“It’s a case of everyone is grafting to get there, to show their variation of rugby league off.”