Monday, March 9, 2015

Pacific Challenge: Canada 'A' team to face Junior Japan announced

Photo CTY News Sakakatoon
With an eye to the final make-up of his squad for Rugby World Cup 2015 Canadian headcoach Kieran Crowley has named a very strong Canada 'A' side to debut in the World Rugby Pacific Challenge against Junior Japan on Monday, local time. Loosehead prop Hubert Buydens (pictured to the right) will lead the Canada 'A' side, thus holding onto the captaincy band handed to him last November when usual captain Tyler Ardron was sidelined. Buydens is to be joined by a host of regular Canadian squad members and, indeed, players who hold down starting positions in the test team. 

The Pacific Challenge is likely to be the final opportunity for players to press for a place in Canada's squad for Rugby World Cup 2015. With the tournament featuring four match days and being the only senior level event prior to the Pacific Nations Cup in mid-late July it is time for fringe players to deliver or miss out on a place in England / Wales 2015. 

Hubert Buydens is commonly named as Canada's leading loosehead prop and he will captain the side together wti Ray Barkwill and Tom Dolezel in the front-row. Barkwill has been a regular in the team team together with Buydens and is currently second to Aaron Carpenter in the hooker hierarchy. Completing the front-five will be Callum Morrison and Evan Olmstead in the second-row. Olmstead has played rugby league in Australia for the Paramatta Eels.

A strong back-row completes the starting forwards with John Moonlight having been the star Canadian forward in recent years. He is to be joined by Seb Pearson and the returning Adam Kleeberger whose place in the World Cup appeared over not too long ago. 

A number of players are missing such as back-rowers Nanyak Dala and Kyle Gilmour. Also unalbe to play in Fiji are Nathan Hirayama, James Smith, Doug Wooldridge and leadiong scrumhalf Phil Mack. With Mack missing Gordon McRorie will start behind the scrum and is to join Liam Underwood who was plaguerd by injury in 2014. 

Crowley has gone for Underwood over Harry Jones whom is to feature off the bench as will Sean White as the replacement scrumhalf. Both players are no strangers to the test side which means all Canadians must deliver against Junior Japan and in subsequent matches.

Indeed with competition for places in the test side high Phil MacKenzie is back from the Sale Sharks to play for Canada 'A'. MacKenzie is  to form a back-three combination with Jordan Wilson-Ross and mid-fielder Ciaran Hearn. With Hearn at the back Patrick Parfrey and Conor Trainor have been named to start together in the centres. 

The match will kick-off at 9pm ET / 6pm PT. It can be watched live by clicking here.

Hubert Buydens
Ray Barkwill
Tom Dolezel
Callum Morrison
Evan Olmstead
Adam Kleeberger
John Moonlight
Seb Pearson
Gordon McRorie
Liam Underwood
Phil MacKenzie
Patrick Parfrey
Conor Trainor
Jordan Wilson-Ross
Ciaran Hearn
Pete Houlihan
Jake Ilnicki
Ryan Kotlewski
Kyle Baille
Thyssen de Goede
Sean White
Pat Kay
Harry Jones

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