Canada draw in rookies for Los Pumas
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Canada head coach Mark Anscombe has named a fairly young starting line-up for Saturday’s 2017 Americas Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.
The team will be captained by Gordon McRorie and features 12 players with previous test cap experience. However, Saturday’s game is not a sanctioned test match.
"We’ve got a young team and it’s about getting them up to speed with playing a team with the quality of Argentina," Anscombe said. "The boys have worked hard and they’re looking forward to it.
"Argentina likes to play an open game but they know how to win the ball up front first. They’re physical and are big men who use their set pieces. It’s going to be a big challenge for us,"
Rob Brouwer, Eric Howard and Matt Tierney will form the front row for Canada with Conor Keys and Liam Chisholm starting at lock. Lucas Rumball starts at openside flank with Burnaby’s Admir Cejvanovic at blindside. Calgary’s Clay Panga starts at No.8.
McRorie starts at scrumhalf while Robbie Povey gets the nod at flyhalf. Taylor Paris and Dan Moor start on the wings with Nick Blevins and Brock Staller in the centres. Calgary’s Carl Pocock starts at fullback.
Last year, Canada lost 54-21 to Argentina in Rosario. Moor and Andrew Ferguson (2) had tries for Canada while Ferguson slotted all three conversions.
In 2016, Canada finished third after wins over Uruguay, Brazil and Chile. In last year’s tournament, 19 players earned their first test cap for Canada. The tournament has proven to be a quality breeding ground for players with many of last year’s debutants going on to play for Canada during the RISEAsOne Series in June and the annual November Tour.
"We can take heart from our third place finish last year," Anscombe said. "We’ve got to look at ourselves and our depth and development as a team because this is all about building up to June for our World Cup qualifier so this is a good stepping stone for that,"
Canada will also host Chile on February 11 at Westhills Stadium in Langford before hosting USA on February 18 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
Canada: 15 Carl Pocock, 14 Dan Moor, 13 Brock Staller, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Robbie Povey, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Clay Panga, 7 Lucas Rumball, 6 Admir Cejvanovic, 5 Liam Chisholm, 4 Conor Keys, 3 Matt Tierney, 2 Eric Howard, 1 Rob Brouwer.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Cole Keith, 19 Reegan O’Gorman, 20 Matt Beukeboom, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Guiseppe Du Toit, 23 George Barton
Date: Saturday, February 4
Venue: Westhills Stadium, British Colombia
Kick-off: 20:00 (12.00 GMT; 17.00 Argentina Time)
Referee: Kurt Weaver (USA)
Assistant referees: Harry Mason (Canada), Michael Jones (Canada)