The American National Rugby League has named an 18-man squad for Game 1 of the Colonial Cup series with Canada.
The USA Tomahawks and Canada Wolverines are scheduled to get the 2012 series underway on Saturday, September 8 in Toronto.
The 2012 AMNRL champion New York Knights and Grand Finalists Connecticut Wildcats provide the bulk of the squad, which is made up solely of domestic-based players. The AMNRL is deliberately fielding a domestic-based Tomahawks’ squad so as to get a look at as many players as possible with a view to next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
“We will have few debutants mixed in with some veteran Tomahawks players, which hopefully is going to be a successful combination for us,” said USA coach Marcus Vassilakopoulos.
“Looking forward to a huge challenge against a very good Canada side that is coming off two big wins.
“We will have to prepare the boys well in order to come out of the first game with a win. Canada has some quality players and will be well prepared for a big game in front of the passionate Canadian fans. Every game you play up there is tough because the Canadian people are very proud to represent their country.”
Among the veterans are players returning from the Tomahawks’ 2012 campaigns against Ireland and Tonga including Gareth Baxendale, Curtis Cunz, John Dykeman, Kelly McGill, Vai Notoa, Justin Ripley, Sean Taylor, Louis Tulio, Matt Walsh and Kevin Wiggins.
“After talking to [USA head coach] Matt Elliott about the squad and the quality of certain individuals’ play this season, I have decided to name a bigger than usual squad in order to have a look at the players that have impressed,” added Coach Vassilakopoulos.
“Over the two games I should be able to see all these players and report back to Matty what I've seen, how they interact with each other, how they prepare themselves and how they ultimately play. All these aspects will be considered for squads leading up to and for the World Cup in 2013.”
The match is scheduled for a 7p EST kickoff at Lamport Stadium, Toronto.
USA TOMAHAWKS SQUAD:
Fitzjames Adams (NY Knights), Gareth Baxendale (NY Knights), Luke Collins (PA Bulls), Bryan Confer (PA Bulls), Curtis Cunz (CT Wildcats), John Dykeman (NY Knights), Todd Fisher (NY Knights), Kelly McGill (Hawaii), Vai Notoa (Hawaii), Justin Ripley (NY Knights), Ben Sadgrove (NY Knights), Mike Schacter (CT Wildcats), Dennis Schmeiler (CT Wildcats), Sean Taylor (NY Knights), Louis Tulio (PA Bulls), Dusten Umeda (CT Wildcats), Matt Walsh (CT Wildcats), Kevin Wiggins (PA Bulls)