By Brian Lowe, Date: 31/8/18
As celebrations wind down in the wake of the 2018 USA Rugby League national championship, attention is now turning to the USARL’s annual NORTH versus SOUTH All Star game.
The match is seen as a way of showcasing the best of America’s rugby league talent to cap off the domestic season.
Initial squads have been selected from both conferences and each has a fair smattering of players representing all teams in the competition.
The Brooklyn Kings and Philadelphia Fight dominate the NORTH with six players each as they finished the regular season in the top two spots in the conference standings, while the White Plains Wombats have the next highest number of players with four after reaching the conference championship.
One notable absentee from the NORTH squad is New York Knights forward Josh Rice, however, it has nothing to do with his form. Rice has moved back to his native Hawaii where he hopes to help revive a Hawaiian Conference.
The original Pacific Conference had its origins in 2011 as an expansion by the previous national governing body the American National Rugby League (AMNRL).
That aside, after scouting many games during the regular season, the NORTH’s coaching staff have picked what they feel is a competitive squad.
“We’ve been pretty transparent from the start of the conference’s competition this year on our selection process giving everybody the opportunity to be a part of the All Stars squad,” says head coach Brent Richardson.
“This side really rewards some really good individual efforts, but also some really strong performing teams this year as well.”
The new national champion Jacksonville Axemen and Tampa Mayhem, with six each, have the most players on the SOUTH squad closely followed by the Southwest Florida Copperheads with five, while the Atlanta Rhinos have four.
“We’re trying to get a State of Origin sort of thing happening,” adds SOUTH head coach Sean Rutgerson.
“What Brent and I need to see is these players up against each other in a better environment. The best of our boys up against the best of theirs and they need to be under pressure so we can see how they perform.”
Rutgerson and Richardson are the coaches for the USA Hawks, who will take on Canada, Jamaica and Chile in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup Americas region qualifying series in November.
The All Star game is slated to be played on Sunday, September 9 in Conshohocken, PA, the home of the Philadelphia Fight.
NORTH All Star squad:
Brandon Anderson (Brooklyn Kings)
Shaniyat Chowdhury (Brooklyn Kings)
CJ Cortalano (White Plains Wombats)
Kyle Denham (Philadelphia Fight)
Mike Elias (Boston 13s)
Alex Foster (New York Knights)
Chris Frazier (NOVA Eagles)
Jared Frymoyer (Philadelphia Fight)
Dave Greiner (White Plains Wombats)
Rich Henson (Philadelphia Fight)
Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight)
Brian Madden (Philadelphia Fight)
Ralph Mendez (Brooklyn Kings)
Randy Porter (New York Knights)
George Reis (White Plains Wombats)
Jay Robinson (Brooklyn Kings)
Karim Singleton (New York Knights)
Seimou Smith (Brooklyn Kings)
Tristan Sylk (Philadelphia Fight)
Matt Walsh (White Plains Wombats)
Chris Wiggins (Delaware Black Foxes)
Dane Wilcoxen (Brooklyn Kings)
Coach: Brent Richardson
SOUTH All Star squad:
Tim Ashmun (Southwest Florida Copperheads)
Cody Blackwell (Tampa Mayhem)
Justin Branca (Tampa Mayhem)
Irving Carcamo (Atlanta Rhinos)
Roderigus Ceasar (Southwest Florida Copperheads)
Curtis Goddard (Southwest Florida Copperheads)
Kyle Grinold (Jacksonville Axemen)
Khalial Harris (Jacksonville Axemen)
Jethro Hauser (Tampa Mayhem)
Josh Heath (Tampa Mayhem)
Jordan Heine (Atlanta Rhinos)
Sean Hunt (Atlanta Rhinos)
Jude Kermundu (Southwest Florida Copperheads)
Steven Knight (Unattached)
Bart Longchamp (Tampa Mayhem)
Tyler McClain (Jacksonville Axemen)
Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos)
Jason Paul Jr (Atlanta Rhinos)
Mike Stoeling (Tampa Mayhem)
David Thomas (Jacksonville Axemen)
David Washington (Jacksonville Axemen)
Kevin Wathen (Jacksonville Axemen)
Sterling Wynn (Southwest Florida Copperheads)
Coach: Sean Rutgerson