Canadian Players in Wales – March 2024

Izzak Kelly and Jamin Hodgkins Top List of Canadian Players in Wales

Last summer it was Canadian players in NZ, this spring it’s Canadian players in Wales. Last summer we tracked a number of players who were playing regional Premier rugby in NZ, including Izzak Kelly, Noah Bain, Jacob Bossi and Callum Botchar in Taranaki. This spring a number of players are congregating in Wales.

It’s not like Wales don’t owe us after we took in Robert Howley when no one would hire him, then keeping Kingsley Jones on contract and before that it was Geraint John. Canada have been very good to Wales now it’s time for some reciprocal action.

The following players are playing in Wales with Izzak Kelly and Jamin Hodgkins playing at the Premier level. There’s also an article appended below that features Izzak Kelly at Pontypool and training with the Dragons.

Izzak Kelly
WRU Premiership

Jamin Hodgkins
WRU Premiership

Zephyr Melnyk
WRU Championship

Tom Morrissey
WRU Championship
Maesteg Quins

Sam Turner
Glamorgan Wanderers
WRU Championship

Jeffrey Young
WRU Division 1

from South Wales Argus

Big Canada lock Izzak Kelly training with the Dragons

Imposing Canada lock Izzak Kelly is training with the Dragons after signing to play for Pontypool in the Premiership.

The 6ft 6ins forward has linked up with the Rodney Parade club as they prepare for the United Rugby Championship run-in.

Kelly, who has won four caps for the Canucks, will be playing for Pooler until the summer but is also getting a taste of a professional environment with the Dragons.

He is not in line for action with Dai Flanagan’s side, who have seven games left this season, but the management will get a chance to assess the 23-year-old.

The lock’s physical attributes make him an intriguing prospect and the Dragons must weigh up whether it would be worth pursuing a deal to invest in the Canadian.

Flanagan looked to power up his second row last summer and signed South African Deon Slabbert only for the move to collapse for personal reasons.

The head coach wants to add more bulk to his side – “We need to be a bigger team and to do that we have to go into the market,” he said last month – but Kelly would be a long-term project if a deal was agreed.

Canada head coach Kingsley Jones, who was boss at Rodney Parade in 2016/17 after previously being Lyn Jones’ assistant, has been a key figure in the agreement to bring the second rower over to Wales.

A spell in Australia playing in the Shute Shield has also been lined up before home summer Tests against Scotland, Romania and Japan.

The lock is a talented athlete who played hockey, lacrosse, basketball and American football before concentrating on rugby.

Kelly was brought into Canada’s senior set-up by Jones after catching the eye with the Under-20s before the coronavirus pandemic.

He made his international debut when playing both of Canada’s Tests in Tonga last August, then faced Spain and Brazil in the autumn.

Kelly had been playing for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in Vancouver last month but has travelled to Wales.

He linked up with the Dragons ahead of last weekend’s URC clash with Ulster and is poised to get a chance to show what he can do on the pitch in the coming weeks with Pooler.

With seven games to go, Leighton Jones’ men are aiming to climb back into the top four of the Premiership to make the play-offs and face a key clash with leaders Llandovery at Pontypool Park on Friday.

Kelly is to get a chance to learn from training in a professional club environment with the Dragons and will aim to show his physicality in Pooler colours.

Posted in Editorials, Front Page.