Players named in the USA Tomahawks elite player pool have been hard at it as they strive for inclusion in a 25-man squad for the upcoming Donnybrook Cup international against Ireland.
The Tomahawks coaching staff has been leading skill-based work for the players as part of preparations for the St Patrick’s Day test in Philadelphia.
Players have been put through their paces locally and in sessions at the American National Rugby League’s two training centers, one in Philadelphia and the other at the AMNRL’s high performance academy in Connecticut.
“Really looking forward to the Ireland game next month,” Tomahawks assistant coach Marcus Vassilakopoulos tells WeAreRugby. “After a great year like last year internationally, it's important to continue playing quality teams so our guys can get better.
“It's always a tough game when you play the Irish. They whipped us last year and it didn't feel good and by the looks of things they are bringing over another quality side. It'll be a tough challenge for the Tomahawks boys.
“Our domestic based players will be used for the Ireland game and the feedback from them has been very positive regarding fitness and availability.”
The USA squad will be boosted by the inclusion of several key ex-national team players who are returning to the fold after a stint with non-AMNRL teams last season.
“We also welcome back Damien O'Malveney, Ben Kelly and Kenny Britt into the Tomahawk camp after a year’s hiatus, so I'm pretty excited about them being involved,” continues Coach Vassilakopoulos.
“Another quality athlete who is not available for this game is Akarika Dawn, who is committing to the AMNRL with his sights firmly set on making the World Cup squad. I have a big wrap on this kid and think he can really play.
“Unavailable will be Mike Garvey, Josh Rice and Jayson Rego, who are tearing thins up for the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup in Queensland, but we'll be looking to bring in maybe two or three Hawaiian based players.”
The AMNRL is expected to announce the 25-man squad this coming week. That squad will then be trimmed in early March to a final 17-man gameday roster for the Donnybrook Cup match on Saturday, March 17th.