Preview: Canada v Maori

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 21:31
Large canadian fans 800

BLOCKBUSTER: The biggest ever crowd is expected for a 15-a-side match at BC Place - as Canada take on the Maori All Blacks on Friday.

While World Rugby rankings points are not officially on the line, Friday's fixture is an exciting chance for a young Canadian team to test themselves against one of the world's most recognizable brands of rugby.

And, with over 29,000 tickets sold, it will be played in front of largest crowd in Canadian fifteens rugby history.
 
"I played in the first year of Canada Sevens at BC Place and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing and we know it's going to the same tomorrow [Friday] night," said Phil Mack, captain of Canada.
 
Friday's fixture falls outside of the official World Rugby November test match window, making a number of international players unavailable to join the roster
 
"With injuries and players unavailable due to their professional commitments overseas we're missing a number of starters, but that gives younger players an opportunity to gain international experience against a quality opposition in the Maori All Blacks," added Mack.
 
Following the clash at BC Place, Canada will fly to Europe on Saturday morning to face Georgia (Tbilisi), Spain (Madrid) and Fiji (Narbonne, France) on the 11th, 18th and 25th respectively.
 
"We've had a great week of training with [new coach] Kingsley [Jones] and we're excited to get our November series underway to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay in the New Year," added Mack.  
 
Led by captain Mack at scrumhalf, Canada's roster mixes a blend of experienced internationals - Ray Barkwill, Hubert Buydens, and Tyler Ardron - with players making their debut for Canada's Senior Men's Team, including Dustin Dobravsky and Josh Larsen.
 
Five members of the starting team - Buydens, Barkwill, Dobravsky, Pat Parfrey & Guiseppe du Toit - recently took part in the Americas Pacific Challenge in Uruguay for Canada ‘A'.

Names unavailable due to injury or other commitments include: Matt Evans, Conor Trainor, Connor Braid, Admir Cejvanovic, Conor Desmond, Cole Keith, Gordon McRorie, Nickalas Blevins, Taylor Paris, Shane O'Leary and Jeff Hassler.

Upon arrival in Tbilisi, Canada's roster could potentially be bolstered by the return of overseas professionals, including: Ciaran Hearn, Aaron Carpenter, DTH van der Merwe, Jake Ilnicki and Brett Beukeboom.

For the Maori All Blacks, eight new caps have announced in the starting 23, with Manawatu's Jackson Hemopo starting at lock, and Shaun Stevenson, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sam Henwood, Jordan Manihera, Tyrel Lomax, Ross Wright and Liam Polwart to debut off the bench.
 
Coach Clayton McMillan said they had high expectations of a good performance on a quick track at BC Place, the venue for the Friday fixture.
 
"We're pretty happy with how things are ticking along, we've had some good training.

"Everyone who is here deserves their opportunity to represent the Maori All Blacks and while they may be lacking for a bit of experience at this level, they certainly make up for it in enthusiasm, and I am really happy with the way the team has bonded.
 
 "We don't see it as a starting 15 and eight off the bench - it's a full squad of 27 with everyone including those boys not playing, working to help us prepare," he said.

Teams:

Canada: 15 Andrew Coe, 14 Brock Staller, 13 Ben LeSage, 12 Guiseppe du Toit, 11 Dan Moor, 10 Patrick Parfrey, 9 Phil Mack (captain), 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Matt Heaton, 6 Dustin Dobravsky, 5 Josh Larsen, 4 Kyle Baillie, 3 Matt Tierney, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Eric Howard, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Ryan Kotlewski, 19 Lucas Rumball, 20 Evan Olmstead, 21 Andrew Ferguson, 22 Robbie Povey, 23 Kainoa Lloyd.

Maori All Blacks: 15 Charlie Ngatai, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Tom Franklin, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Jordan Manihere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
 
Date: Friday, November 3
Venue: BC Place Stadium, Vancouver
Kick-off: 19.00 (02.00 GMT, Saturday, November 4; 15.00 NZ Time, Saturday, November 4)
Referee: Kurt Weaver (USA)