March 18, 2014, TOKYO, JAPAN (ISN) – Canada return to IRB World Sevens Series action this Saturday when they compete in the sixth leg of the 2013/14 campaign, which takes place in Tokyo.
It has been over a month since the Canadians enjoyed one of their best months ever on the Series as they finished in third position at the Las Vegas Sevens before following that up with a Plate final appearance at Wellington’s event.
Those strong performances propelled Geraint John’s men into the top ten spots in the standings on 43 points, which puts them above the likes of France, Wales, Scotland, Portugal, the United States and Spain with four rounds remaining.
Maintaining this form is, of course, the objective for coach John, his coaching staff and also the players, who welcome Chauncey O’Toole, Jake Webster and Sean White into the 12 in place of Connor Braid, Phil Mack and Justin Douglas.
“We don’t want to perform well in one and not the other. We want to be consistent in both and build on what we did in Wellington and Las Vegas,” John said prior to departing for Tokyo, explaining how they have prepared ahead of another back-to-back fortnight of tournaments in Japan and then Hong Kong.
“The key thing after Las Vegas was to get the players’ health back. We discussed in our review areas what needed improving, with conditioning one thing we’ve really worked hard on as we’ll go from a Saturday-Sunday (Tokyo) to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday tournament (Hong Kong) so there’s less recovery time.”
Another testing yet exciting period awaits Canada then, heading into this weekend’s pool stages where they will take on New Zealand, Wales and Portugal, looking to secure what would be Cup qualification for a third successive event.
Game 1: Canada vs Portugal at 11:50 local time (10:50pm ET/07:50pm PT)
Canada will get their Tokyo Sevens campaign underway when they tackle Portugal in the sixth fixture of Day One at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.
Portugal lost their three pool games in Wellington last time out before going down in their two fixtures on the second day, so will be keen to respond, with head coach John always wary about the threat the European outfit can pose.
“We have met twice this year, winning one and losing one. They’re always very gritty so we’ll have to make sure we start the tournament at our best.”
Game 2: Canada v Wales at 15:08 local time (02:08am ET/11:08pm PT)
From the current standings, this fixture could be pivotal in who progresses into the Cup competition on Day Two, with Canada entering the game knowing they overcame Wales 21-19 on the most recent meeting, at the Las Vegas tournament.
Wales, who recently saw coach Paul John leave his post to be replaced by assistant Gareth Williams, will be hungry to get their season back on track.
“Like the Portugal game, this clash with Wales will obviously be another difficult group fixture,” said John. “They are a workmanlike side as they make you work to score tries and also we have to work hard in defence to overcome them.”
Game 3: Canada v New Zealand at 19:20 local time (06:20am ET/03:20am PT)
Canada conclude their opening day’s efforts against the 2013/14 pace-setters and Series holders New Zealand, with a first triumph over Gordon Tietjens’ side continuing to drive coach John and his players, who keep on improving.
“We’re getting closer (to a win) although I think we need to be a little bit more competitive and smarter which we’ll be discussing with our players.”
He added: “There’s never an easy pool as the competition has got tougher and tougher but our goal is to keep building on what we’ve done this year and be in the Cup competition on Sunday, ultimately winning as many games as possible.”
All games on the HSBC Sevens World Series can be watched LIVE atwww.irbsevens.com!
Canada’s Men’s Tokyo Sevens
Canada v Portugal at 11:50 local time (10:50pm ET/07:50pm PT)
Canada v Wales at 15:08 local time (02:08am ET/11:08pm PT)
Canada v New Zealand at 19:20 local time (06:20am ET/03:20am PT)
Canada’s Roster for Tokyo – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Sean Duke – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Nathan Hirayama, Captain – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Chauncey O’Toole – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Belleisle, NB
Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Jake Webster – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
Sean White – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Players Unavailable for Selection:
Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Pat Parfrey – (James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL
Senior Men’s Team Staff:
Geraint John – Head Coach
Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst
Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Brian Hunter – Manager
Canada’s Men’s Sevens Program is proudly sponsored by Sport Canada and Own the Podium.