The American National Rugby League has named a 27-man squad for the Donnybrook Cup test match against Ireland later this month in Philadelphia.
The squad will be trimmed to a 17-man gameday roster by the end of the week.
Included in the 26 are players making a return to the AMNRL, others who are coming back from the USA’s successful Rugby League World Cup Qualifying team, some with a chance to make their international debut and one more who has previously turned out for the US in rugby.
Making their return to the Tomahawks’ fold after spells with teams that broke away from the AMNRL in 2011 are Ben Kelly, Damien O’Malveney, Kenny Britt and Akarika Dawn.
Curtis Cunz, Justin Ripley, Ian Elliott, Sean Taylor, Apple Pope, Andrew Kneisly, Nate Smith and Pila Taufa are all coming back after playing roles in America’s triumphant run through the RLWC last fall.
Players with a chance of winning their first cap include John Dykeman, Luke Hume and Matt Walsh, while Vai Notoa, a USA Eagles rugby pool player, has forced his way into the squad after representing the USA Rugby Select XV.
“This is a strong squad and one that we feel can get the Tomahawks’ Road to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup program off to a solid start,” said AMNRL president David Niu. “We’ve gone with a domestic-based squad to give our home grown talent a chance to show what they've got and to press for future selection.”
The Donnybrook Cup match will be played on Saturday, March 17 at Widener University’s Quick Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1p ET.
USA TOMAHAWKS 27-MAN SQUAD:
Fitzjames Adams (NY), Gareth Baxendale (NY), Mike Brazill (PA), Kenny Britt (FL), Luke Collins (TN), Bryan Confer (PA), CJ Cortalano (NY), Curtis Cunz (CT), Akarika Dawn (TX), John Dykeman (NY), Ian Elliott (NY), Luke Hume (NY), Ben Kelly (CT), Andrew Kniesly (PA), Kelly McGill (HA), Keiki Misipeka (American Samoa), Vai Notoa (HA), Damien O'Malveney (CT), Apple Pope (FL), Justin Ripley (NY), Nate Smith (KY), Pila Taufa (HA), Sean Taylor (NY), Salesi Tongamoa (GA), Louis Tulio (PA), Alejandro Valentin (PA), Matt Walsh (CT)