USA and Jamaica have both named the 19-man squad for their showdown at Hodges Stadium, University of North Florida, Jacksonville tomorrow (Saturday, kick off time 4pm local). The outcome will decide the eleventh nation to qualify for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.
The hosts, USA are unchanged after defeating Chile 62-0, on Tuesday, and Hawks’ head coach Sean Rutgerson is taking nothing for granted. “It has never an easy game against Jamaica, and this time looks to be even more difficult given their impressive first-up win against Canada,” he said.
“Even so, I’m very confident we can get the job done. They’re pretty sharp, and to get on top of them we’re going to have to take it up about another three levels from where we were in our last game. It’s going to be a challenge and it should be a real good game,” he added.
“Our guys have got plenty of spirit. They’re ready to go the full 80 minutes and put the hard work in.”
Opposite number Romeo Monteith, who saw the Reggae Warriors overcome Canada 38-8, added: “It will be a tough game. We’ve got a lot of history between us. Our defence won us the tie against Canada and we’ll need a similar mind-set to stop a very potent USA attack.
“Having a game under our belt should hopefully help us. Our preparation has gone well this week, there have been a few injury concerns but our physio Ben Harper is working hard to get the boys ready. Obviously it would mean a lot to us to get the win and the boys are in high spirits as we chase history.”
Jamaica skipper, Newcastle Thunder’s Joe Brown confirmed: “It’s a massive opportunity for us to qualify. We are the underdogs but I’m confident that if we stick to our game plan and process we will be there. The spirit in camp is really high; we’ve gelled as a group and we’re hoping this journey will continue to 2021.”
English referee Ben Thaler will be in charge with the fixture going to golden point extra time in the event of a draw. The winners gain automatic qualification, the losers will go into a repechage World Group in 2019.
The second match of a doubleheader, Chile facing Canada in the opener, both games will be live-streamed on the national federation’s and Toronto Wolfpack’s Facebook sites.
USA 19-MAN SQUAD: Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos), Ryan Burroughs (Barrow Raiders), Brandon Anderson, Jamil Robinson (Brooklyn Kings), Jerome Veve (Burleigh Bears), Haveatama Luani (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Chris Wiggins (Delaware Black Foxes), Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Kyle Grinold, David Washington (Jacksonville Axemen), Chris Frazier (NOVA Eagles), Kyle Denham (Philadelphia Fight), Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight), Cory Makelim, Mark Offerdahl (Sheffield Eagles), Connor Donehue (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Joe Eichner (Junee Diesels), Danny Howard (Wentworth Magpies), Kristian Freed (Wests Mitchelton).
JAMAICA 19-MAN SQUAD: Joel Farrell, Keenen Tomlinson, (Batley Bulldogs), Jonathan Magrin, Ross Peltier (Bradford Bulls) Aaron Jones-Bishop (Doncaster) Andrae McFarlane, Khamisi McKain, Marvin Thompson, Renaldo Wade (Duhaney Park), James Woodburn-Hall (Halifax) Ashton Golding (Leeds Rhinos), Joseph Brown, Mo Agoro (Newcastle) Jy-Mel Coleman, Lamont Bryan, Omari Caro (London Skolars) Ben Jones-Bishop (Wakefield), Alex Brown (Unattached).