Wales have defended their decision not to play on the mid-season international weekend.

Wales' women's and wheelchair teams will play Test matches against England on the weekend of June 25-26 to help their preparations for the end-of-season World Cup, but there will be no fixture for the men.

Wales Rugby League chief executive Gareth Kear says the decision was down to concerns over player welfare and a desire for players not to be faced with a club-versus-country dilemma.

Wales still hope to play a warm-up match in the autumn ahead of their opening World Cup game against Cook Islands at Leigh on Wednesday, October 27.

Head coach John Kear said: “We feel the best option from a performance perspective is not to take part in an international match this summer.

“For some of our squad playing in the Championship and League 1, this is the first time they’ve played for the best part of 12 months and they’ll already have a congested fixture calendar with their clubs.

“We don’t want to put them in a position where they’re possibly having to play for their club and country in such a short space of time.

“Some of our players are also based oversees and there’s still so much uncertainty about travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking at an international shortly before the World Cup starts and planning some opportunities where we can get together during the season. We’re regularly in contact with all our squad anyhow.

“We feel this is a far better option because we’ll be able to take a better look at all our squad, no matter where they’re currently playing in the world, and how we’re shaping up ahead of the tournament.

“The World Cup is another fantastic opportunity for us to build on the progress we’ve made in recent years.”

Gareth Kear added: “Our primary concern was player welfare and not putting players in a situation of making a club versus country decision.

“It’s a unique situation with a shortened season and one that has increased pressure for clubs to be successful. We recognise it’s going to be tough for players, coaches and clubs.”

The absence of a senior men's international in mid-season will free up St Helens' Wales winger Regan Grace to play for the Combined Nations All Stars against England on June 25.