Canada Head Coach Kingsley Jones has named his starting 23-man roster for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup qualifying series finale against Uruguay.
Canada head into the match trailing by nine points after a 38-29 loss to the South Americans at BC Place in downtown Vancouver last weekend.
The aggregate format of this series means Canada will need to win by at least ten points on Saturday in order to progress to next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan as the Americas 2.
“The travel went as planned, it’s obviously a tough trip but luckily everyone arrived safely,” said Kingsley Jones after the journey south.
Conditions are set to play a crucial role in this weekend’s fixture and the team has been trying to settle in as quickly as possible. “Acclimatization is the key thing for us at the moment. It’s been very hot with temperatures around 34 degrees, which is obviously an adjustment to what we’re used to,” added Jones.
“The general feeling is we didn’t give our best performance in Vancouver and there is room for improvement in every aspect of our game. The players are focused but also frustrated with the way they played and the challenge will be to turn that frustration into positivity on Saturday,” added Jones.
With the series only half-way finished, there is a strong belief that the result can be turned around on Saturday. “If we improve our performance by 30% I believe we can get the result we need. We just need to make sure the guys don’t lose confidence,” said the coach.
Jones gave an honest assessment of their performance last weekend and knows where they need to be better come Saturday in Montevideo: “We can’t leak tries like we did. We missed too many tackles and we’ve got to be better with our technique. We’ve worked very hard on our defense this week and there’s been a lot of talk around improving our line speed in order to put Uruguay under pressure with ball in hand.”
Canada’s forward pack, which was led last weekend by veterans Ray Barkwill (hooker), Hubert Buydens (loose-head prop) and Brett Beukeboom (lock), remains the same leading into Saturday.
Shane O’Leary is set to win his fifth cap for Canada, replacing the injured Connor Braid at flyhalf, who had to leave the game last Saturday with a high-ankle sprain.
Ospreys flyer Jeff Hassler is also unavailable for selection after fracturing his cheek bone in the first round of the series, giving Brock Staller his first start of the series at fullback. Taylor Paris will slot back to his regular position on the wing.
Canada’s all-time try-scoring leader DTH van der Merwe, who touched down for his 29th try last weekend, is set to earn his 49th cap on the wing. Jones’ outfit will once again be captained by scrum-half Phil Mack.
Canada’s bench remains the same from last weekend, with the exception of the addition of Kainoa Lloyd, who moves to the final spot in Staller’s place.
Kick off on Saturday is 5pm local time (3pm ET/12pm PT) and you can watch LIVE on TSN, or online through TSN “GO” in Canada or www.worldrugby.org outside of the Americas.
Canada’s roster to face Uruguay on Saturday:
1. Hubert Buydens – (New Orleans Gold/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon,SK
2. Ray Barkwill – (Seattle Seawolves/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3. Jake Ilnicki – (Newcastle Falcons/BC Bears) Williams Lake, BC
4. Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
5. Josh Larsen – (Northland) Parksville, BC
6. Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
7. Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock) Godmanchester, QC
8. Tyler Ardron – (Chiefs/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
9. Phil Mack – Captain (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10. Shane O’Leary – (Ealing Trailfinders) Cork, Ireland
11. DTH van der Merwe – (Newcastle Falcons) Victoria, BC
12. Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
13. Ben LeSage – (UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
14. Taylor Paris – (Castres/Ontario Blues) Barrie, ON
15. Brock Staller – (Meralomas RFC/BC Bears) Surrey, BC
16. Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac Sporting Club/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
17. Djustice Sears-Duru – (Ealing Trailfinders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
18. Cole Keith – (James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock) Sussex, NB
19. Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
20. Lucas Rumball – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Mississauga, ON
21. Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
22. Patrick Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL
23. Kainoa Lloyd – (Mississauga Blues/Ontario Blues) Mississauga, ON