USA Tomahawks head coach Matt Elliott is encouraged by the team’s performance against Canada in the opening round of the Colonial Cup series. The US will take a 16-point lead into the second match behind its 18-2 victory last weekend in less than ideal conditions in Philadelphia.
The American National Rugby League drew exclusively from the Atlantic Conference and Hawaii when picking the side, opting not to include any of the overseas-based players named in the train-on squad for the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers. “I think it was encouraging in a lot of aspects,” Coach Elliott told WeAreRugby. “The feedback I got from [assistant coaches] David Niu and Marcus Vassilakopoulos was that it was a very unified performance.”
The Tomahawks’ coaching staff is now tasked with naming a team for the return rubber in Toronto on September 17 and Elliott, who’s based in Sydney, thinks the coaches who are Stateside are in a better position to do the job. “The big thing is making a determination of who best serves the team and I don’t think I’m best placed to do that,” continued Elliott. “I think the guys that are over there on the ground are really aware of what the domestic players can do as opposed to the players that are overseas. “Obviously you need to be very conscious of the level of competition, but I think the selection process is really down to the people better placed to be involved in that.”
Elliott says at the end of the day, the plan is to ensure that the USA puts its best possible team on the field in the RLWCQ. He says that means having a look at as many players as possible in the two game set against Canada. “What this whole process is about is giving the US team the best opportunity to get through this qualifying process and into the World Cup," he said. “I think that people may just have to push their ego aside and really understand that what we’re trying to do is assist in representing a nation to make that achievement.”