Canada name RWC training squad
July 13, 2007
Canada head coach Ric Suggitt and his staff have named a 32-man, 2007 Rugby World Cup (RWC) squad that will begin its preparatory cross-Canada tour in Vancouver on August 5th.
The squad contains 18 forwards and 14 backs and possesses a blend of experience and potential. The age-range spans 15 years, from Mike James at 34 years-of-age to Nathan Hirayama at 19.
"The squad will be reduced by two men during August in order that the required, final, 30-man squad will leave for France on August 31st," says Suggitt.
With 51 caps, scrum-half Morgan Williams will captain Canada for the tournament. Playing at his third Rugby World Cup, Williams returns to the country where he burst onto the world stage, scoring two tries against France at the 1999 RWC.
Veteran lock Mike James comes back into the squad for the first time since Canada's qualifying match against the USA in St. John's Newfoundland a year ago. France will be his fourth World Cup, after which James will retire from a 12-year international and professional career.
He is joined by French Top 14 lock Jamie Cudmore, who also returns to Canadian colours for the first time since that match. Both professionals have been unavailable for Canada's recent tours as they have been busy with their respective French clubs Stade Francais and Clermont-Auvergne. Both featured in the French Top 14 cup final, which was won by Stade.
Also rejoining Canada's cause is prop Jon Thiel, who returned with his family from professional rugby in Europe two years ago. After stints with French and Welsh clubs, Thiel has been playing with his Bayside club in British Columbia ever since.
Thiel was last a member of Canada's squad to France in 2005, but suffered an injury that prevented him playing any games. Suggitt has long suggested that the 36-cap veteran of two World Cups might well be included in his 2007 squad. That suggestion has now become a reality and the 32 year-old could well play a vital role for Canada at his third tournament.
The inclusion of James and Cudmore has cost locks Josh Jackson and Oliver Atkinson World Cup opportunities. Both are professional players in Bordeaux, France, where Canada will headquarter for the World Cup. Jackson and Atkinson were members of Canada's recent tour to New Zealand. Jackson saw action against the All Blacks and was also in May's Barclays Churchill Cup.
The solid play and fine work ethic of 20 year-old centre Nik Trenkel, and 19 year-old fly-half Nathan Hirayama on Canada's recent New Zealand tour sees them win places in the squad.
The only uncapped player in the squad, Trenkel played particularly well in Canada's 13-10 win over New Zealand Under-21 in Rotorua last month. Hirayama won his first cap against the New Zealand Maori at the Churchill Cup. Both young men have enjoyed meteoric rises in their Canadian rugby fortunes this past year: both have been members of the Canada sevens team and the National Senior Men's Team. They now win World Cup places.
For two members of this World Cup squad their inclusion must be particularly satisfying.
Over two years ago, Canadian-born, Scotland-raised Ander Monro, and Canadian-born, New Zealand resident, Craig Culpan contacted coach Suggitt with a view to coming to Canada in an attempt to win World Cup places.
Fly-half Monro, with seven caps, and centre Culpan, with five, have now seen that dream come true. Both debuted against England 'A' in 2006, but Culpan's fine play in the past two months in the Churchill Cup and against the All Blacks secured him his place.
The squad includes five props, two hookers, four locks, seven back-rowers, three scrum-halves, three fly-halves, four centres, two wings and two fullbacks. However many players like veterans Ed Fairhurst and Derek Daypuck are capable of playing a variety of positions, as they have done in past internationals for Canada.
Suggitt has also named a non-traveling reserve squad of eighteen players, which includes four uncapped players in prop Mauro Perizzolo, flanker Mark Fisher, fly-half Matt Evans and fullback Ciaran Hearn.
All but 8 of the 32-man squad will assemble in Vancouver on August 5th, to begin a three-week cross-Canada 'Meet the Fans' preparation tour of four Canadian cities.
On August 11th, most of the squad will play against a BC Select XV in Vancouver while ten of the squad will fly to Toronto to be included in a Canada Select XV team that will play visiting Portugal on the same day.
Then for the next weekend, August 18th, Canada will take on Portugal at Twin Elm Park in Ottawa in a fully sanctioned iRB international test match.
Canada will then fly to St. John's, Newfoundland to take on an Eastern Canada XV on August 26th, before returning to Toronto for a gala departure dinner before flying to Bordeaux, its Rugby World Cup base, on September 1st.
"These games will give us the opportunity to use our whole squad, including our overseas players," says Suggitt. "Those will be really good physical contests and ones that will help us in our final preparations before we face Wales, Fiji, Japan and Australia in the World Cup."
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