Return of the Mack – BC players headline Canadian 7s roster
Published Thursday, March 17, 2011 5:00 am
by Doug Crosse, Rugby Canada Communications

Nine players on the 12-man Canadian sevens roster headed to Hong Kong play their club rugby in the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League. The roster is bolstered by the return of UVic Vikes scrum half and national team Captain Phil Mack.

The Canadian men's sevens contingent destined for Hong Kong has been chosen and head coach Geraint John is confident the team has the experience and ability to build on its first two tour events in 2011.

Leading the charge in terms of new inclusions to this year's squad is veteran leader Phil Mack, the 24-year-old scrum half with national sevens and 15s experience.

Mack has been out of action since after the Commonwealth Games when he underwent hand surgery to fix an ongoing scaphoid problem. He has been training with the squad for the past two weeks and John said his inclusion has already had an impact.

“It's obviously great for us,” John said. “With his experience, knowledge of the game and having been on the series, it's great. He brings confidence to the group on and off the field.”

John said Mack could have continued to play after the Commonwealth Games with the hand injury, but that it was a long-term decision to correct the issue before he took the field this year.”

The Hong Kong squad also sees the welcome additions of experienced forward Neil Meechan, centre Mike Scholz and Sean Ferguson.

The squad will also be missing Justin Mensah-Coker due to work commitments and Adam Kleeberger who recently underwent shoulder surgery. Promising Wolf Pack loose forward Nanyak Dala was also under consideration, but is suffering from a knee injury.

Retained from the IRB Wellington and Las Vegas sevens events are Thyssen de Goede, Neil Meechan, John Moonlight, Ciaran Hearn, Sean Duke, Conor Trainor, Chauncey O'Toole and Nathan Hirayama.

John said he used both the east and west sevens talent identification camps held in conjunction with Rugby Canada, as well as the B.C. sevens and the University Sevens Championships held in B.C. last weekend to assist in the selection process.

In addition to the selection opportunities available, confirmed Hong Kong squad members Mack (UVic), Hirayama (UVic), Duke (UVic) and Trainor (UWO) were all playing in the sevens tournament this weekend to gain some added playing time.

“It gives them an opportunity to play the game, even though it won't be at the level they'll face in Hong Kong,” John said. “Phil Mack is actually playing his first game back today for UVic.”

Canada is able to arrive in Hong Kong in advance of the tournament due to the support of the Canadian Rugby Foundation.

Canada departs for the Hong Kong sevens next Friday. The tournament begins March 25 and Canada's first game is at 6:42 p.m. (local time) against Argentina. Canada also faces Australia and Zimbabwe in pool play.

Nathan Hirayama (B.C. Bears)
Phil Mack (University of Victoria)
Ciaran Hearn (The Rock)
Sean Duke (B.C. Bears)
Matt Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Conor Trainor (B.C. Bears)
Thyssen de Goede (B.C. Bears)
Neil Meechan (B.C. Bears)
Chauncey O'Toole (The Rock)
John Moonlight (Ontario Blues)
Mike Scholz (Ontario Blues)
Sean Ferguson (University of British Columbia)

Geraint John
Assistant coach: Quentin Fyfe
Manager: Brian Hunter
Therapist: Isabel Grondin

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