By Brian Lowe
The USA Hawks have named their team for this month’s Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) 9s tournament.
As expected, the 16-man squad is a blend of domestic and eligible overseas-based players.
USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson believes he and his fellow selectors have come up with a balanced squad.
“I’m really happy with the squad we have and excited to see them play,” he tells RugbyLeaguePlanet.
The coach goes on to say that he and the other selectors were looking for many different qualities in each player on the squad as they are also thinking ahead to the final 2021 RLWC qualifier against the Cook Islands.
“I had to consider quite a lot in the make-up of this squad as there are some new guys in the team, so it will be good to see them before the qualifiers in November.”
The US has been slotted into Group A alongside Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, a group previously labelled by Rutgerson as a ‘pool of death’, although he says that doesn’t change what he’s expecting to see from the team.
“My expectations are that we will be there to enjoy playing against the best in the world while gaining as much experience as we can,” he adds.
“There is no pressure on us. We have a lot of unknown people in the team and they will all represent the USA to the best of their ability, and we will see what happens.”
The 9s World Cup is scheduled to be played on October 18-19 at the new Bankwest Stadium in Sydney.
The two highest-placed teams from Group A will move on to the semifinals with the winners of Groups B and C. All teams will play one game on Friday and a minimum of two matches on Saturday.
USA Hawks squad:
Conner Donehue (Brooklyn Kings)
Eddy Pettybourne (Central Queensland Capras)
Ronaldo Mulitalo (Cronulla Sharks)
Mark Offerdahl (Goondiwindi Boars)
Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC)
Khalial Harris (Jacksonville Axemen)
Charlie Jones (Jacksonville Axemen)
David Washington (Jacksonville Axemen)
Joe Eichner (Northern Pride)
Ryan Burroughs (Northern Virginia Eagles)
Corey Makelim (Sheffield Eagles)
Jerome Veve (Souths Logan Magpies)
Jay Florimo (The Entrance Tigers)
Junior Vaivai (Toulouse Olympique)
Danny Howard (Wentworthville Magpies)
Kristian Freed (Wests Mitchelton)