The USA starts its crucial buildup to the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers with an assembly this week in Philadelphia of the 22-man Tomahawks squad for Saturday’s Colonial Cup test against Canada. Selectors have picked a domestic-based squad opting not to inject any of the overseas-based players who have been named in the USA’s RLWCQ train-on squad. The squad is missing several key players because of injury, or personal commitments. Experienced Tomahawks Nate Smith, Luke Collins and Curtis Cunz are not available and their omission opens the door for some exciting young talent to stake their claims for inclusion in the 17-man lineup for Saturday’s game.
It is the first team assembly since the Donnybrook Cup international against Ireland last March and no fewer than 11 players will be making their bids to represent the United States for the first time. Players hoping to make the cut include Fitz-James Adams (New York Knights), Leslie Alovili (Northern Raiders), John Dykeman (New York Knights), Ian Elliott (New York Knights), Michael Garvey (Aston Bulls), Thomas Ray (Hawaii Islanders), Joshua Rice (Hawaii Islanders), Justin Ripley (New York Knights), Charlie Rizzo (Connecticut Wildcats), Touanga Talakai (Maui Voyagers), Alejandro Valentin (Aston Bulls).
Head coach Matt Elliot and his assistants are looking at the two Canada matches as opportunities to try out various combinations and personnel prior to the RLWCQ.
“We are excited about facing off against Canada in a home and away series in Philadelphia and Toronto. It is a fantastic opportunity for both the AMNRL and CRL to grow the sport of rugby league in North America and showcase our national teams either side of the border,” AMNRL president David Niu tells WeAreRugby. “We have tremendous respect for what Eric Perez and Cory Tukeli have achieved in a short period of time to bring rugby league to Canada and the progress they have made presenting the sport on a national level. “The Tomahawks will be in for two very tough matches. I am well aware of Jamie Lester's ability as a player and a coach, so we need to be at our very best to meet the challenge ahead of us.”
COLONIAL CUP GAME 1: USA TOMAHAWKS v CANADA WOLVERINES
Kickoff 3:00pm EST
Charles Martin Memorial Stadium, Northeast Philadelphia
Tickets - $5 Adults; Kids Under 18yo Free - All purchased at the gate