The USA Tomahawks coaching staff is gearing up for the next High Performance camp later this month as they look ahead to the Colonial Cup series against Canada. The American National Rugby League is preparing for the home-and-home series with Canada that will be followed by the crucial Rugby League World Cup Atlantic Zone qualifying series in October involving the US, South Africa and Jamaica. The East HP camp follows a West camp that was held in Hawaii last month where Tomahawks head coach Matt Elliott got his first look at players who could potentially earn selection to an elite player pool for the RLWCQ. As a result of the Hawaiian camp, an extensive number of players have been grouped into a regional pool with a view to forming a Hawaii representative side to host touring teams, although players in that group are not necessarily guaranteed a spot in the AMNRL’s elite player pool.
Elliott, who’s splitting his time between coaching and media commitments with FOX Sports, says at this stage it’s hard to know who might get into the elite squad. “I guess the difficulty is that I don’t know what the other players are like,” Elliott tells WeAreRugby. “The ones I saw just haven’t played enough rugby league. They’re certainly athletes, but they need to play more rugby league. “The two guys from UH (Josh Rice, Jayson Rego) are great physical specimens, they just need to play more rugby league. They could force their way into the squad, but right now they just don’t have the awareness of rugby league.” Rice, a former linebacker, is playing in the back row, while Rego, formerly a running back, is playing on the wing.
Coach Elliott says US-based players like the two former football players would benefit by spending time in Australia learning the ins and outs of the game. He says it would greatly improve their skills sets. “If we could get them to come and play country football for one season I have no doubt that they would learn a lot,” he says. “I did the same thing with players in England. I sent Jamie Peacock, the England captain, to the Wollongong/Illawarra region and he improved in leaps and bounds. “If we could do that with American players, it would make a massive difference.” The East High Performance camp is scheduled to be held in Philadelphia August 18-28.