Hosts USA and Chile, the first South American nation to take part in the Americas Championship, have named 19-man squads for their clash at the University of North Florida Stadium, Jacksonville tomorrow (Tuesday, kick off 7pm).
The match is part of a double-header, with the winners facing Jamaica or Canada who meet beforehand, in a second double-header at the same venue on Saturday; the victors of that game gaining automatic qualification to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.
The USA squad includes nine domestic-based players, as well as two others who have been playing overseas. The Hawks will again be captained by Mark Offerdahl, who skippered the national team during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the work the players have put in, out on the field,” said USA head coach Sean Rutgerson, who coaches the local Axemen. “We have a great record here in Jacksonville and this is where we qualified last time. All the players have been here and know their way around.
“UNF have great facilities, it’s just like a home ground and we are hoping to get a big crowd behind us.”
Opposite number Rodrigo Millar includes four players from the fledgling Chilean Futbol a 13 domestic competition in his selection.
“We believe that this is the best mix for the future of rugby league in our country,” he commented. “We have done our best to ensure that we are well prepared for this tournament, and will endeavour to produce our best performance to date.”
Millar, whose son Tent is set to play, added: “We know that we have a huge task in matching our much experienced opposition and will be respecting them. However, we will play to the best of our ability and we certainly have everything to gain.”
The matches will be live streamed through various Facebook channels which has given the tournament and players a boost going into it, according to Rugby League International Federation official and tournament director, Danny Kazandjian.
“It is really pleasing that the City of Jacksonville and Toronto Wolfpack have combined to provide additional visibility through a network of online broadcasters,” he said. “North America is a strategically important territory and this innovative approach will further every stakeholders’ interests.
“Furthermore, the RLIF has confirmed a multi-annual investment package into the Americas Championship to increase its status and scope, and in recognition of the growing number of eligible nations.”
USA 19-MAN SQUAD
Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos), Ryan Burroughs (Barrow Raiders), Brandon Anderson, Jamil Robinson
(Brooklyn Kings), Jerome Veve (Burleigh Bears), Haveatama “Joel” Luani (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Chris Wiggins (Delaware Black Foxes), Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Kyle Grinold, David Washington (Jacksonville Axemen), Chris Frazier (NOVA Eagles), Curtis Goddard (Southwest Florida Copperheads), Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight), Cory Makelim, Mark Offerdahl (Sheffield Eagles), Connor Donehue (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Joe Eichner (Junee Diesels), Danny Howard (Wentworth Magpies), Kristian Freed (Wests Mitchelton)
CHILE 19-MAN SQUAD
Mana Castillo-Sioni (Botany Rams RLFC), Jonathan Espinoza (Bulimba Valleys Bulldogs RLFC), Iziah Esera Catrileo, Bradley Millar, Trent Millar (Brothers Mustangs RLFC), Nick Doberer (Canterbury RUFC), Thomas Garrido, James Horvat (Corrimal Cougars RLFC), Jaden Laing (Davenport University), Piero Diaz (Mariman RLFC), Patrick Caamano (Mounties), Taylor Salas (Ngen Mapu RLFC), Jose Nitor-Alvear (Queanbeyan Kangaroos RLFC), Ferec Cabezas (Rhinos RLFC), Brandon Tobar (Riverstone Razorbacks RLFC) Junior Sandoval (Sunbury Tigers RLFC), Zecil Yao (Toros RLFC), Eduardo Wegener (West Belconnen Warriors RLFC), Eugene Araya (Western Sydney University Ducks RLFC)