The USA and Canada are getting ready to renew their rugby league rivalry for another year as Game 1 of the Colonial Cup series draws nearer. Saturday sees the Tomahawks host the Wolverines in Philadelphia. Canada has already made its final travel squad selections, while the US has named a 22-man squad that will be trimmed to 17 for game day. The match marks the start of a focused buildup for the USA as the national team fine tunes its strategies, game plans and personnel only two months out from the most important Rugby League World Cup Qualifying series in American league history. Tomahawks coaches want to get a look at as many players as possible prior to the RLWCQ in October and consequently have picked a completely domestic-based squad without drawing from the ranks of eligible players overseas, although several regular starters are unavailable because of injury or work commitments.
Conversely, Canada in just its second season after emerging from a 10-year hiatus from international rugby league is looking to make a statement. “We are looking forward to measuring ourselves against the USA Tomahawks as we are well aware that they are the benchmark of rugby league in North America,” Canadian head coach Jamie Lester told WeAreRugby. “I was a little surprised to see the number of new faces in the Tomahawks squad and the absentee of players like Mike Cartwright, Curtis Cunz and Nate Smith whom we were expecting to face. That being said, we know of the quality that remains and that any team led by their Captain Apple Pope will be a difficult proposition.”
Canada has never beaten the USA in their Can-Am rivalry that started in 1993, but the Canadians are coming off an historic first ever rugby league test win after beating Jamaica in July and will be keen to retain their winning form. “Like the Tomahawks, we have some players from our team that faced Jamaica unavailable due to injury or work/family commitments,” continued Lester. “This provides other squad members with a great opportunity to show what they have to offer and cement positions in the team for future matches. More than anything, we want to prove to each other how good of rugby league we can play and how much hunger we have to win. We can't wait to match up against the might of the Tomahawks.”
The Canadian squad will fly to Philadelphia on Friday.
COLONIAL CUP GAME 1: USA TOMAHAWKS v CANADA WOLVERINES
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Charles Martin Memorial Stadium, Northeast Philadelphia
Tickets - $5 Adults; Kids Under 18yo Free - All purchased at the gate