By Brian Lowe, Date: 18/6/19
The USA Hawks are ready and raring to go in their international against Jamaica this coming weekend in the Caribbean island nation.
The game, to be played in Kingston on Saturday, is part of the Rugby League International Federation’s (RLIF) gazetted international weekend.
This will be the first time that the US has played the Reggae Warriors in Jamaica and will be the Jamaicans’ second ever home Test. They hosted Canada in 2017.
It will also be the first time both the Hawks and Reggae Warriors have played a game since they met last November in the final of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) Americas region qualifying series in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Jamaicans won that contest to seal their first ever trip to the RLWC. As such, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to suspect the Americans might have some get square thoughts in the back of their minds going into Saturday’s game.
“We’ve got things that we need to do going into the qualifier at the end of the year and we’re hoping to put in a strong performance,” says USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson. “And if we can use that as a bit of added incentive to get players to do that bit extra, then yes, they can use it all they want.
“But I’m more on the lines of just concentrating on what we need to do as a team to get to where we need to get to for the qualifier.”
The US will play the winner of the South Africa (Middle East Africa) versus Cook Islands (Asia Pacific) RLWC qualifier this weekend in Sydney in an all-or-nothing game to determine who gets the final berth for #RLWC2021. That game is set for November 16 in Jacksonville.
The USA has an all-time (Tomahawks/Hawks combined) 6-1 winning record against Jamaica stretching back to their very first matchup in the inaugural Atlantic Cup in 2009.
Jamaica Rugby League director of rugby Romeo Monteith says Saturday’s game will be a somewhat muted occasion for his team as national player Leon Thomas passed away two weeks ago from a sudden illness and another player Adrian Hall almost lost his life in a car accident on his way to training in April and is still recovering.
“I’m happy to have USA play in Kingston, the spiritual home of rugby league in Jamaica. We have always wanted to share games in each country and hopefully this is the start of a more equal relationship,” says Monteith.
“I think agreeing to home and away internationals between USA, Canada and Jamaica is crucial to building our rivalries and brand in the Americas. If the South American countries do the same, league will be a more healthy, visible and marketable sport in the Americas.
“There is no doubt that payback is on the mind of team USA for this friendly. They are highly motivated, we saw that in the 9s with the inclusion of a few guys who have played the last couple seasons at a high level in Australia and I have no doubt they will line up in this Test alongside some other major stars from the USARL.”
The Hawks will field an all domestic-based team this weekend. Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos) has been named as USA captain, a role he has carried out with distinction several times previously.
USA Hawks squad:
1 Alex Foster (Brooklyn Kings), 2 Josh Jackson (Jacksonville Axemen), 3 Cody Blackwell (Tampa Mayhem), 4 Brandon Anderson (Brooklyn Kings), 5 Tristan Sylk (Philadelphia Fight), 6 Charlie Jones (Jacksonville Axemen), 7 Sterling Wynn (Brooklyn Kings), 8 Jon Purnell (Jacksonville Axemen), 9 Bart Longchamp (Tampa Mayhem), 10 Kyle Denham (Philadelphia Fight), 11 Khalial Harris (Jacksonville Axemen), 12 Jay Robinson (Brooklyn Kings), 13 Nick Newlin (Capt) (Atlanta Rhinos)
Interchange: 14 Dane Wilcoxen (Brooklyn Kings), 15 Kevin Wathen (Jacksonville Axemen), 16 Randy Porter (Brooklyn Kings), 17 Sean Hunt (Atlanta Rhinos)