The inaugural Americas Championship will be decided later today (Saturday) when Canada face USA at the Lamport Stadium, Toronto (kick off 7pm).
Both nations have defeated Jamaica to set up the winner-takes-all clash, which at the same time will constitute the first-leg of the Colonial Cup, a tournament that continues to build tradition and measure the progress of these two growing rugby league nations.
The second leg will be played on the first of October, at Eden Park in Wilmington. This year marks the seventh time these two teams will battle for the Colonial Cup, with current trophy holders Canada having defeated the USA in both games, in 2015.
Canadian RL president, Paul O’Keefe commented: “This is the first time Canada has played USA on home soil for two years and we can’t wait. We are promoting the match under the slogan
double the importance'. As well as our local rivalry, and the fact that USA are preparing for the 2017 World Cup, there are RLIF Ranking points on the line here. The fact also. that we are working together on the 2021 World Cup bid, makes these extremely exciting times for both nations.”
USA Hawks head coach for these games, Dustin Cooper noted: “We are a more composed team now, with a clearer sense of direction than in 2015. Most of the squad have a number of international games under their belts so they know what’s expected of them both individually and as a team.”
The visitor’s squad includes selections from 10 domestic clubs; Junior Vaivai returns to partner Matt Walsh in the halves; Taylor Howden, who featured heavily in the 2015 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers, Americas, re-joins; and several newcomers are included, all looking to impress leading up to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
The bulk of the Wolverines squad comes from Ontario.
Colbey Franko, Lawrence Ross, Evan Thomas (Alberta Broncos), Alex Boyd, Kevin Gurniak, Joel Hulett, Shaun McKenzie, Rick Shouten, (BC Bulldogs) Eddie Bilborough, Akarika Dawn, Cam Grace, Alan Lafferty, Robin Legault, Denny McCarthy, Christian Miller, Eric Moyer, Danny Tupou, Matt Wyles (c) (Ontario)
Nick Newlin (c) (Atlanta Rhinos), Craig MacKenzie (Boston 13s), Bart Longchamp, Taylor Alley (Central Florida Warriors) Junior Vaivai (Illawarra Devils) Joe Eichner, Jon Purnell (Jacksonville Axemen) Gabriel Farley (Lindenwood University) CJ Cortalano, Josh Rice (New York Knights), Taylor Howden (Ohio Rugby) Casey Clarke, Rich Henson, Andrew Kneisly, Roman Lowery, Zach Reichenbach (Philadelphia Fight) Jon St John (Tampa Mayhem) Luke Barron, Matt Walsh (White Plains Wombats)