SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Canada’s Men’s Head Coach Kieran Crowley has made four changes to his starting roster for Saturday’s Pacific Nations Cup clash against USA at Bonney Field in Sacramento, California.
Saturday’s test match will be the first for Canada against their North American rivals since qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup by beating USA on a 20-point aggregate last August. Canada opened the home-and-home series on August 17 with an 18-point victory in Charleston, South Carolina with the final two-point victory coming at BMO Field in downtown Toronto on August 24 in front of over 10,000 fans.
Both nations will be looking for their first victory of 2014 on the weekend, having each lost to Japan on Scotland over the last two Saturday’s.
In the front row, Andrew Tiedemann and Aaron Carpenter will feature alongside Jake Ilnicki, which will be the first start for the 22-year-old Williams Lake, BC product.
The rest of Canada’s forwards remain untouched from the Scotland match, with Jamie Cudmore and Tyler Hotson in the second-row and Jebb Sinclair, John Moonlight and Captain Tyler Ardron in the back-row.
In the backs, Phil Mack returns to the scrum half position alongside Harry Jones at number 10. James Bay AA standout Connor Braid will make his first start of 2014 in the centres along with Ciaran Hearn.
Canada’s third all-time try scorer DTH van der Merwe will join fellow professionals Jeff Hassler and James Pritchard, who sits second in tries scored behind Winston Stanley, in the back three.
Canada will have a wealth of front-row experience on the bench with Hubert Buydens, Jason Marshall and Ray Barkwill, along with Jon Phelan, Kyle Gilmour also in the forwards. Back substitutes include the speedy Gord McRorie, utility back Nathan Hirayama and either Pat Parfrey or Nick Blevins depending on late injuries.
While the USA has not defeated Canada since 2009 in South Carolina, Nick Blevins is well-aware of what the hosts will bring on Saturday.
“Obviously we’ve played them quite a bit over the last few years and they’re a strong team and we know the challenge that they’re going to bring on Saturday,” said Blevins after training on Wednesday.
“We know they have some strong ball runners and we’re focusing on making our first up tackles. Having lost against Japan and Scotland, we’re viewing this game as a must-win,” added the Alberta-native.
Canada Captain Tyler Ardron concurred with Blevins’ words.
“We’re expecting a similar game to what we’ve seen in the past; they have big, strong and physical athletes that run hard lines and have a bit of deception with quick and skilled backs out wide,” said the Lakefield, Ontario native after training.
“Having lost these past two weekends it is tough, but we’ve put them behind us taken away the positives and will use them against USA this weekend. This is a must-win for us,” added Ardron.
Temperatures at Bonney Field are set to hit the mid-90s on Saturday, which is nearly 35 degrees Celsius. Although it’s a dry heat, conditions will be difficult for players to maintain their ideal levels of hydration for maximum performance.
Kick off is schedule for 3pm local time and USA Rugby is expecting a sold-out crowd at the brand new 8,000 seat stadium.
Canada’s Starting Roster for USA Test Match:
1- Andrew Tiedemann, (Plymouth Albion RFC /Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
2- Aaron Carpenter, (Cornish Pirates RFC) Brantford, ON
3- Jake Ilnicki, (Williams Lake Rustlers/Auckland Colts) Williams Lake, BC
4- Jamie Cudmore, (ASM Clermont Auvergne) Squamish, BC
5- Tyler Hotson, (London Scottish) Vancouver, BC
6- Jebb Sinclair, (London Irish RFC) Fredericton, NB
7- John Moonlight, (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
8- Tyler Ardron, (Ospreys/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON - Captain
9- Phil Mack, (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10- Harry Jones, (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) West Vancouver, BC
11- DTH Van der Merwe, (Glasgow Warriors) Regina, SK
12- Connor Braid, (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
13- Ciaran Hearn, (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
14- Jeff Hassler, (Ospreys/Prairie Wolf Pack) Okotoks, AB
15- James Pritchard, (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
16- Hubert Buydens, (Manawatu Turbos/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
17- Ray Barkwill, (Niagara Wasps RFC/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
18- Jason Marshall, (Atlantique Stade Rochelais) Vancouver, BC
19- Jon Phelan, (Doncaster Knights/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
20- Kyle Gilmour, (Saint Albert RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saint Albert, AB
21- Gordon McRorie, (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
22- Nathan Hirayama, (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
23- Nick Blevins, (James Bay AA/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB/Patrick Parfrey, (Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock) St. Johns, NL
CANADA’S MEN’S SCHEDULE:
CANADA SELECTS 26 - 27 BC BEARS INVITATIONAL
Saturday, May 31
Klahanie Park, West Vancouver, BC
CANADA 25 – 34 JAPAN
Saturday, June 7
Pacific Nations Cup
CANADA 17 – 19 SCOTLAND
Saturday, June 14
BMO Field, Toronto, ON
CANADA VS USA
Saturday, June 21
Pacific Nations Cup
Bonney Field, Sacramento, CA
Kickoff 3pm Pacific Time (6pm ET)
LIVE on TSN