PHILADELPHIA’S former gridiron standout Michael Garvey has made the starting team for America’s debut Rugby League World Cup contest.
The USA Tomahawks have announced their 19-man squad to face Cook Islands at Bristol Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night and it features three American-based players in the starting 13.
Garvey, born in New Jersey before moving north to Philadelphia, starts at left centre alongside Hawaiian three-quarter Loto Tagaloa.
While Hamptons, New York, personal trainer and owner of Southampton Dragons Craig Priestly makes his World Cup debut at halfback.
Parramatta Eels’ utility Joseph Paulo is captain and five-eighth while his older brother and former Eels player Junior starts at prop.
Wigan Warriors-bound prop Eddy Pettybourne will play his first game for the Tomahawks as will Newcastle Knights forward Clint Newton and Wests Tigers hooker Joel Luani.
Coach Terry Matterson said narrowing down his 19-man squad was an arduous process due to the talent on offer.
“This was a really tough selection process,” he said.
“With three games in eight days all of the squad will be needed with this tough schedule.
“Mark Cantoni and Ryan McGoldrick are the only players not considered.”
Garvey was a talented running back in high school who was scouted by Division 1 college teams.
He recently moved to Australia to further his rugby league education and hopefully crack the NRL.
1. Kristian Freed
2. Bureta Faraimo
3. Michael Garvey
4. Loto Tagaloa
5. Matt Petersen
6. Joseph Paulo (C)
7. Craig Priestly
8. Junior Paulo
9. Joel Luani
10. Eddy Pettybourne
11. Clint Newton
12. Matt Shipway
13. Daniel Howard
14. Tui Samoa
15. Mark Offerdahl
16. Stephen Howard
17. Les Soloai
18. David Marando
19. Judah Lavulo
The Tomahawks’ final 17-man team list will be released one hour prior to kick off on Wednesday.