Turkey hoping Sezer can provide World Championship boost

Turkey officials are hopeful Canberra playmaker Aidan Sezer will be available during the finals of the Emerging Nations World Championship on October 13 at St Marys Leagues Stadium.

Sezer and Raiders team-mate Emre Guler trained with Turkey in the lead-up to the tournament but did not play in last Monday's 30-22 defeat of Solomon Islands or Thursday's 60-0 triumph over Japan.

Turkey coach Scott Hartas said Guler had been ruled out through injury but Sezer may play in the semi-final or final after returning from holidays.

Sezer, whose father Yucel was born in Turkey, gave an indication of how passionate he is about his heritage by attending the Turkish Rugby League Association grand final between Kadikoy Bulls and Radnicki Nis at Istanbul's Beylerbeyi Stadium on September 23.

"Aidan and Emre have both trained with us," Hartas said. "Emre is a bit busted from the end of the year and Aidan is on holidays until the third or fourth match but there is a chance he could play when he returns. The other guys got the biggest lift when he was there."

Raiders and Turkey forward Emre Guler.
Raiders and Turkey forward Emre Guler. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

Rugby league was only established in Turkey in 2016 but is proving popular in Istanbul, with eight men's teams and five women's teams now playing.

The majority of the ENWC squad comprise of Australians of Turkish heritage, who are this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of assisted immigration between the two countries.

However, the squad also includes four players from Turkey, one each from France and Germany and two from England, including Salford second rower Jansin Turgut, who scored two tries in the win over Japan.

Hartas, who has coached at junior representative level for Wests Magpies, became involved after being invited to training by one of his former players, Adem Baskonyali.

"I took Adem all the way through junior reps, I took him on a tour of England with the Magpies. He is a tremendous kid, he captained all my sides," Hartas said. "He dragged me along to training and I thought I could help out."

Sydney-based Ethem Coskun played for Turkey in their first international against Greece in Rhodes after attending some training sessions while on holidays in 2016.

"Because they were all union-based players they didn't know the rules so I had to help them out a bit," Coskun said. "They have come a long way in two years and really set the foundation now so we have just got to build on it.

"Now that something like this is established I think it is going to encourage a lot of young Turks to step up and take the game to another level."