Amateur rugby league Grand Slam winner Kristian Hawkes believes the sport is on the rise in Wales as he bids to turn professional.
The third year business management student has already won the Four Nations title during his two years with the Welsh Dragonhearts side.
But scrum-half Hawkes has the national professional side in his sights as Wales prepares to jointly-host the 2013 World Cup with England.
“It has always been a dream,” he said.
“I just need to keep improving and… well fingers crossed.”
The Dragons are beginning to make a claim for their stature among the world’s elite after winning the European Cup title last year.
This lead to qualification to the prestigious Four Nations tournament, pitting them up against England, Australia and New Zealand this coming winter.
Hawkes believes that with Wales being involved in the tournament it will highly benefit the game in this country.
“The Four Nations is going to be massive, there is no bigger stage,” he said.
“It will be hard for the side but I think it will give more awareness to people in Wales about rugby league.”
Given the rise of the Dragons and the dominance of the Dragonhearts, Hawkes believes the strong rugby union set up greatly helps the rise in the league game.
“We get a lot of guys from rugby union,” he added.
“We have a great system for union rugby in place here in Wales.
“Passing skills from union to league, we can play free flowing rugby compared to other nations who train solely for league.”
As well as the union system, the Celtic Crusaders and their inclusion in the Super League have also had a major part to play in the progression of international rugby league standards here in Wales.
“They have been involved the last three years playing at the highest level,” said Hawkes.
“They have been developing Welsh players and the results have shown.”
With the Wales team improving every year, Hawkes firmly believes hosting the World Cup is the perfect opportunity for Wales to show what it can offer and for people to try rugby league.
“A lot of people are familiar growing up with rugby union,” he said.
“I encourage people to give league a try, it’s something different with a lot of the same traits.”