By Brian Lowe, Date: 5/7/13
The American National Rugby League has named an 18-man squad for the opening game of the Colonial Cup series against Canada.
The match is scheduled to be played this Saturday night at Lamport Stadium in Toronto.
The Tomahawksâ€™ squad is dominated by the AMNRLâ€™s Atlantic Conferenceâ€™s Connecticut Wildcats who have eight players on the roster. The reigning champion New York Knights have the next highest representation with four players on the squad, while the remainder comprise guys from the Atlantic and Pacific Conferences, as well as the Southampton Dragons in the UK.
Regular Tomahawks captain Apple Pope will miss the game because of a broken hand, an injury he picked up while playing for the AMNRLâ€™s Presidentâ€™s XIII against Samoa last month.
The teamâ€™s head coach for this cross-border series is Marcus Vassilakopoulos, with Damian Flint named as Assistant Coach/Team Manager.
Coach Vassilakopoulos has already acknowledged the Wolverines are legit and that they have been getting better year by year since returning to international rugby league in 2010 following a ten year break.
â€œWe’ll need to improve our ball control against Canada and have a better line speed and kicking game,â€ he said.
The USA holds an overall 13-2 record all-time against its northern neighbors and is 5-1 against the Wolverines since 2010, although never before have they faced a Canadian team as talented as the one they will square off against during this yearâ€™s Colonial Cup series.
North American bragging rights aside, the American coaching staff intend to use this series to make final assessments of domestic players staking claims for spots on the Tomahawksâ€™ 24-man roster for RLWC2013.
The USA is ranked #12 on the RLIF World Rankings, while Canada checks in at #19 going into Saturdayâ€™s game. RLIF World Rankings will be on the line in this series.
USA TOMAHAWKS SQUAD:
Mike Cartwright (New York Knights), Bryan Confer (Aston Bulls), Curtis Cunz (Connecticut Wildcats), Akarika Dawn (Jacksonville Axemen), Kristian Freed (Connecticut Wildcats), Pete Jordan (New York Knights), Andrew Kneisly (Aston Bulls), Vai Notoa (Hawaiian Chiefs), Mark Offerdahl (Connecticut Wildcats), Damien Oâ€™Malveney (Southampton Dragons), Craig Priestly (Southampton Dragons), Justin Ripley (New York Knights), Ben Sadgrove (New York Knights), Mike Schachter (Connecticut Wildcats), Dennis Schmeiler (Connecticut Wildcats), Salesi Tongamoa (Connecticut Wildcats), Matt Walsh (Connecticut Wildcats), Taylor Welch (Connecticut Wildcats)
USA TOMAHAWKS 2013 Schedule:
USA v Canada (Colonial Cup, Toronto, July 6)
USA v Canada (Colonial Cup, Philadelphia, August 24)
USA v Canada (Colonial Cup, Toronto, September 21)
USA v France (Toulouse, October 18)
USA v Cook Islands (RLWC2013, Bristol, October 30)
USA v Wales (RLWC2013, Wrexham, November 3)
USA v Scotland (RLWC2013, Salford City, November 7)