Fresh from announcing the appointment of native Aaron Zimmerle as their new coach for the forthcoming 2017 Rugby League World Cup – Americas Qualifying Tournament – to be held in Florida in December – Canada Rugby League Association has named nine new faces in the side to take on the USA Hawks in the Colonial Cup, at A. A. Garthwaite Stadium, Conshohocken, PA on 20 September.
Zimmerle is currently the head coach of the Queensland Intrust Super Cup side Tweed Heads Seagulls and this year guided Queensland Residents to a win over the NSW Cup Representative team.
Christian Miller, CRLA Board Member said: “Aaron’s background, knowledge of the game and professionalism will be invaluable in our preparation and during the Americas Qualifying tournament. To top it all off, he’s a proud and passionate Canadian.”
Zimmerle moved to Australia when he was nine years old and will be spending time in Canada before the Qualifying Tournament to prepare the team. He was contracted from high school to the Penrith Panthers and played lower grades there before moving to Japan for three years, appearng in two internationals for them.
“This is a great honour. Canada is my country and rugby league has been my Australian life,” he commented. “I am excited to work with Jamie Lester and Andy Blackburn as my assistants as they are key figures in our preparation. Our goal is to be the first ever Canadian team to make the Rugby League World Cup.”
He has just started watching videos from games played this year and was not involved in the selection of the side for the first of two Colonial Cup clashes. As the game is being played in the East, Jamie Lester from Ontario will coach the Wolverines. Two players from British Columbia have been selected, Trent Bourke and Joey Murphy.
The Canadians go into the match as the Colonial Cup holders after winning last year’s one-off encounter at Toronto’s Lamport Stadium, however, they have never beaten the USA on the road and have won just three of 12 encounters since their inception in 2010.
Jamie Lester noted: “It’s exciting to have so many fresh faces in the squad. I am confident of what our players can achieve but at the same time I know it’s going to be a huge challenge taking on USA. They are ranked 10th in the world, made the quarter-finals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and are always tough opposition, especially at home.”
The Canada team is represented by all four Ontario clubs as well as British Columbia’s Surrey Beavers and Abbotsford Griffins. The second match in the series will also be held in Philadelphia, in mid-October.
Canada Wolverines Team v USA
Alan Lafferty, Billy Gemmell, Christian Miller, Erick Alvarado, Steve Piatek (Brantford Broncos), Denny McCarthy (Oakville Crusaders), Antoine Blanc, Eddie Bilborough, Enoch Wamalwa (Toronto City Saints), Jason Locke, John Cregg, JT Rowbotham, Matt Wyles, Max Smillie, Robin Legault (Toronto Centurions), Trent Bourke (Abbotsford Griffins & Jamberoo Superoos), Joey Murphy ( Surrey Beavers & Jamberoo Superoos), Joey Murphy
18th man: Eric Moyer (Brantford Broncos)