By Brian Lowe, Date: 24/8/17, Photo: Copyright © Davey Wilson
It’s all systems go for Canada as they get set for their first international of the summer, while making history at the same time.
The Wolverines will play Jamaica in Game 2 of the Rugby League Americas Championship Saturday at the University of the West Indies in Kingston.
As we reported earlier in the week, the match will be the first ever Test to be played in Jamaica and naturally the Reggae Warriors are primed to make a good first impression in front of their home crowd.
However, as one might also reasonably expect, Canada is equally ready to put on a show with plans to spoil Jamaica’s party.
There’s a lot riding on the outcome for both teams. The Jamaicans are already 0-1 in the series with a huge -42 points differential following their big loss to the USA in July and desperately need a win to have any chance of figuring in title calculations.
On the other hand, the Canadians want to win to ensure their match against the US next month will be a winner takes all showdown for the crown.
Even though they’re playing at home for the very first time, Jamaica will have it all to do to rebound from their defeat by the Hawks and the Canadians think they are capable of doing so.
“Yeah, I do,” said Canada head coach Ben Fleming.
“I think any side usually comes out stronger after losing like that, and probably how close it was at halftime and then dropping off would’ve been disappointing for them, so I’d imagine like any team they’ll be working hard at training and getting ready to bounce back.”
It will be Canada’s first hit out of the 2017 season, so chances are they could be a little rusty in terms of their unison and cohesion, although the coaching staff has been working on that.
“It’s hard when not everyone trains together, but that’s why I’ve focused my efforts on streamlining the provincial training sessions,” added Fleming. “We’ve worked hard at standardizing our provincial training programs so they’re better in line with the national program.”
The Wolverines squad is due to fly to Kingston Thursday, giving them just one day to acclimate to the local conditions, but despite that, coach Fleming is confident they can come away with a win.
“I’d like to think so. We have greater transparency and I’ve really focused hard on building the right culture, so I’d like to think that it transcends into playing well on the field.
“Players will work for each other, have greater trust and understanding, so I think having those elements on the field can really help you progress. The players have all bought into the new way forward, both on and off the field, so it’s looking healthy.”
Ontario halfback Eddie Bilborough will captain the Canadian team.
Americas Championship schedule:
USA 48 Jamaica 6 – Jacksonville, FL (July 22, 2017)
Jamaica v Canada – Kingston (August 26, 2017)
Canada v USA – Toronto, ON (September 16, 2017)