The South Africa Rhinos will try to even the card when they tackle Rugby League World Cup rivals Jamaica in the second game of the Atlantic Zone qualifying series Wednesday in Philadelphia. South Africa was sent packing by a dominant USA Tomahawks side in the series opener at the weekend and will need a much improved showing in their second outing if they’re to keep alive any hope of qualifying for the 2013 World Cup in England and Wales.
The Rhinos need to win big against Jamaica and then hope the Jamaicans can overcome a very committed Tomahawks team in the final game of the series on Sunday to have a shot at advancing. South Africa had a limited build-up to the qualifiers that consisted of just one warm-up game against Canada en route to Philadelphia. Prior to that, their last hitout was 18 months ago when they hosted a British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) squad that toured the Republic in 2010.
The Rhinos’ team at the qualifiers is a completely domestic-based squad as the coaching staff opted to omit 11 overseas players who ply their trade in the NRL and European Super League. The rationale behind that move was to give their domestic guys some much needed experience at a higher level. “If something does happen in the Jamaica-USA game and we do have an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup, we will look at the 11 experienced overseas players,” said South African head coach Steven van Zyl. “We’re expecting a great game from the Jamaicans when we look at their size and that. They seem to be quite physical.”
Rhinos captain Andre Loader says his team learned some valuable lessons in the first game that can be applied in their next match. “I think you can expect a better game than what you saw Saturday,” Loader said. “The boys just have to let it sink in that we are actually at a World Cup qualifiers so there’s no more playing around and I think they’re capable of putting it to Jamaica.”
JAMAICA v SOUTH AFRICA
1pm at Campbell's Field
Wednesday, October 19