LANGFORD, BC – After a month and a half break since the Gold Coast opener, Canada return to IRB World Series action on November 29-30 to kick-off a busy fortnight.
Dubai will host the second tournament of 2013/14 for the first of back-to-back legs that sees the group then move on to Port Elizabeth, South Africa on December 7-8.
It promises to be a testing period for the squad but with confidence gained from their exploits in Australia - where they were unlucky to miss out on qualification for the Cup competition - Canada will be looking to build on the seven points claimed from an opener that saw them make the Bowl Final.
Geraint John was hoping for just that when he confirmed his squad of 12 that will first travel to Portugal for a week's preparation before making the journey to Dubai, with four new players included who did not feature at the Gold Coast. They are: Conor Trainor, Adam Kleeberger, Phil Mack and Mike Scholz as Mike Fuailefau, Sean Ferguson, Pat Kay and captain Nathan Hirayama drop out. Hirayama's possible injury return is hoped to be late January.
The remaining eight involved are John Moonlight, Nanyak Dala, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Lucas Hammond, Justin Douglas, Pat Parfrey and Connor Braid.
As mentioned, the squad will be based in Portugal and arrive in Europe on Monday, November 17, staying until Sunday the 24th due to the fifteen squad taking on the Portuguese in Lisbon next week. That means there may be up to ten Sevens regulars playing in the Test before jetting off to Dubai.
Of course this isn't ideal preparation for head coach John ahead of Dubai and Port Elizabeth but a prospect that's unavoidable in such a busy schedule.
"A lot of preparation will be done off the field in Dubai as many players will arrive from a hard four weeks of rugby," the boss explained from the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford.
"Physically I'm happy with where the players are at and I feel they are rugby ready. Obviously I would've liked to have done more Sevens specific work with them but we're confident that after working closely with the fifteen-a-side team - we have to support each other - that the players are all happy."
John recalled that injuries played a part in South Africa last year due to the workload exerted in Dubai the previous week. However, he believes that getting the preparation right ahead of pool games against England, Fiji and the USA is critical, with training matches in the week already scheduled.
"A lot of Monday and Tuesday will be a recap to get the players in the Sevens mode and try to freshen them up and recovered and ready to play," he said.
"The midweek training games (against New Zealand and Scotland) will be key to that process as it will give us a welcome click back into Sevens mode."
Looking ahead to the November 29 action, head coach John was under no illusions of the task facing his charges against their group rivals but believes their opponents will also be wary of a dangerous Canada side, with all the players named having Sevens experience on the circuit
"England and Fiji have both got new coaches and played well at the Gold Coast so those games will be hard but I think they know we'll be tough as well," he added. "Then we play our rivals the USA who we had success against at the Sevens World Cup, but those games are never easy so we're in a tough pool."
Canada open their account against England (third in Australia) before facing Fiji and then USA, who won the Plate and Shield respectively on October 13.
Dubai Sevens – November 29-30, 2013
Canada v England at 10:54 local (1:54am ET/10:54pm PT)
Canada v Fiji at 15:46 local (6:46am ET/3:46am PT)
Canada v USA at 18:02 local (9:02am ET/06:02am PT)
Canada’s Roster for Dubai and Port Elizabeth - (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
Connor Braid - (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Nanyak Dala - (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Justin Douglas - (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
Lucas Hammond - (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Ciaran Hearn - (Castaway Wanderers RFC/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Harry Jones - (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Adam Kleeberger – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/BC Bears) White Rock, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight - (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Pat Parfrey - (Swilers RFC/The Rock) St. Johns, NL
Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Players Unavailable due to injury or overseas commitments:
Sean Duke - (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Mike Fuailefau - (Castaway Wanderers RFC/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Nathan Hirayama - (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Taylor Paris – (Agen) Barrie, ON
Jake Webster – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
Senior Men’s Team Staff:
Geraint John – Head Coach
Kieran Crowley – Assistant Coach
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Brian Hunter – Manager