Although the Rugby League World Cup is still more than 650 days away, the American national team coaches are starting to size up the opposition.
The USA Tomahawks will compete in Group D alongside co-hosts Wales and Cook Islands with only one of the three going through to the money rounds.
They will play each other once then each team will square off against one of the sides from Group C - Scotland, Tonga and Italy. The team that finishes on top of the standings after their three preliminary games will win the Group and join seven other nations in the finals series.
Group A, consisting of Four Nations winners Australia and finalists England, plus Fiji and Ireland, will send three teams to the finals, as will Group B with world champions New Zealand, European Cup winners France, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
One of the potential issues facing the US coaching staff when formulating game plans for those crucial preliminary matches is that of the looming opposition, three of the teams in Groups C and D have beaten the Tomahawks in the past.
The defeats by Scotland, Cook Islands and Wales, twice, came during one of the USA’s longest run of outs way back in 1995 when it went 1-6. Realistically, of course, those results hold little water today, but from a historical standpoint and perhaps also a psychological perspective, the Tomahawks will be starting from behind the eight ball and therefore will want to square the ledger in 2013.
That is one reason why the American National Rugby League has set plans in motion now, rather than letting things slide, by starting the process of identifying potential national team players and scheduling mini camps for them.
Two camps have been tentatively penciled in for the AMNRL’s Elite Player Pool and they are to be held before the Donnybrook Cup international against Ireland in March.
The AMNRL is asking coaches from around the country, including regions where new teams are being established such as the Southeast, Midwest and West, to do their due diligence to ensure that even the newest players are included in the mix.
The USA will be competing on the sport’s biggest stage for the very first time next year and consequently the AMNRL is leaving no stone unturned in an effort to make sure that the Tomahawks are given the best possible chance of success.
For more information about the Rugby League World Cup, please visit the official website