As that old saying goes, “don’t let the grass grow under your feet” and that’s certainly the case these days for the USA Tomahawks coaching staff.
Coming off their big win over Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup last month, which was their third straight W including the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers last fall, the Tomahawks now have Tonga squarely in their sights.
The USA is due to face the Tongans on May 12 in Hawaii and following that match, Japan will be next up on June 9 also in Hawaii.
The American National Rugby League has built out a full schedule for the national team in 2012 and with NRL-based head coach Matt Elliott busy with the Sydney Roosters and national coaching director Lee Addison fulfilling commitments in Australia; responsibility for preparing and coaching the team rests for the most part with stand-in head coach Marcus Vassilakopoulos.
“Mate, coming off a great win against Ireland our goals for the year are to put a quality side out in every match we play,” Vassilakopulous tells WeAreRugby.
“Next up is a very tough challenge against Tonga. Depending on cost and availability we would like to have a mix of domestic players from the mainland USA and Hawaii for this game, but will be checking on availability of overseas based personnel.
“The Japan game will be just USA based players and a possible chance for us to look at some new players on the international scene - guys from Hawaii and new test players from the USA mainland.”
After the Japan game attention will turn to the AMNRL’s domestic competitions with the national coaching staff casting an eye over the ramped up Atlantic and Pacific Conferences, as well as the new Midwest Conference, plus a series of planned exhibition games involving teams that are earmarked to form a Western Conference.
Coaches will be scouting for potential national team talent to add to the mix as the USA looks ahead to tests against Canada in the early fall and a possible tour to Europe at the end of the season.
“The Colonial Cup against Canada will be two great games as they always are against our friends from the North,” continues Vassilakopoulos. “I'm sure they'll be hoping to build on their win against us last year and our guys will be looking to come into the games focused and ready for a massive challenge.
“We'll see what comes of a possible tour in the fall, we aren't real sure if it will happen but we'll be ready if we go somewhere. We have some high quality players based in the USA these days; it's actually pretty exciting to see some these guys run around so I’m looking forward to the upcoming year internationally.”
A busy time ahead for the Tomahawks indeed, but it’s all part of the AMNRL’s buildup to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.