2:40pm Thursday 24th October 2013
ABERGAVENNY'S Gil Dudson is looking to cap a dream year by making an impact with Wales at the rugby league World Cup, writes Chris Kirwan.
Iestyn Harris' side will not lift the trophy – even England will be hard pressed to deny Australia or New Zealand– but they aim to make it through to the semi-finals.
And Wigan prop Dudson will be a key figure when Wales get their campaign under way against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm).
The 23-year-old, who played for Torfaen Tigers and Newport Titans, heads into the tournament as a double winner after winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley and Super League at Old Trafford.
"Winning one competition alone in any given year is unbelievable," he said. "But to do the double has been a dream come true – I couldn't have imagined it.
"To finish the season on a high by winning the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and then to go straight into the Welsh camp with all my mates here has been fantastic.
"Preparations here with Wales have been going really well. We've had a good first week, the boys have really ripped into training and everyone has bought in to what we're trying to achieve. We just can't wait to start now.
"Every boy dreams of playing in a World Cup so I'm really excited to play in one for Wales on home soil. It will cap off an amazing season and I couldn't have asked for anything better.
"We've got some added experience and quality players going into the World Cup and we are hoping to achieve something. We're in quite a tough group so we know the challenge that's facing us."
Dudson played union for New Panteg and Pontypool United Youth, earning selection for the Dragons Under-18s.
And he hopes that Cardiff will take to the 13-man game in the same way it does for the 15-man format.
"As a kid I went to Six Nations games and dreamed that one day I would be running out there wearing the Welsh jersey," he said.
"To get the opportunity to do that will be unbelievable with a good crowd there to cheer us on against Italy. If we can create the same atmosphere as Six Nations games, it'll be awesome."
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