SAN JOSE, CA – Kieran Crowley has named his starting roster for Canada’s opening Pacific Nations Cup match against Japan in San Jose, California, on Saturday.
Crowley has given a test debut to Thyssen de Goede, who will start alongside Richard Thorpe at flanker, while Tyler Ardron will captain the side from the No.8 position.
“There’s a bit of everything in there,” Crowley said. “It’s not the World Cup squad as there are some guys we still need to have a look at. There are some guys who aren’t here due to various reasons so it’s an opportunity for some of these guys to put their hands up.”
De Goede follows in his father’s footsteps by representing Canada as Hans made 24 test appearances from 1974-1987 scoring two tries. He captained Canada in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup.
Veterans Hubert Buydens, Ray Barkwill and Doug Wooldridge make up the front row while Jon Phelan and Brett Beukeboom get the start at lock.
After an impressive showing at the Canadian Rugby Championships, Gordon McRorie will start at scrum half while Liam Underwood gets the nod at fly half.
Guinness Pro 12 vets DTH Van Der Merwe and Jeff Hassler will man the wings while Connor Braid and Ciaran Hearn line-up at centre with Matt Evans at full back. Phil Mack and Nathan Hirayama, fresh off of winning a gold medal in rugby sevens at the Pan-American Games in Toronto, are named to the substitutes bench. If Callum Morrison comes off the bench, he will also make his test debut.
The team has spent the last week at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island training ahead of the Japan fixture, focusing on game-plans as well as having players compete head-to-head as they battle for position. They also spent time with the Vancouver Canucks who were hosting their Prospects Development Camp.
“We’ve really worked hard the past week on our game and our gameplan to get the combinations in place to move forward,” Crowley said. “We’ve drawn a line in the sand and hopefully this is where can build from throughout the rest of the year.
“The camp was very beneficial to starting to integrate everything in one place.”
Canada last faced Japan in the 2014 Pacific Nations Cup, falling 34-25 in Burnaby. Canada has an extensive history against Japan, going 8-13-2, since their first meeting in 1932. The two draws both came during World Cup action — 12-12 during the 2007 edition and 23-23 at the 2011 tournament.
“It’s going to be an extremely fast game I think,” McRorie said. “They play from all areas of the field so we’re going to have to expect them to run and play at a high tempo.
“Obviously it’s a big year and the Canadian Rugby Championship gave us the opportunity to prepare for the international stage. I’m really looking forward to it and am excited to pull on the Canada jersey again and representing Canada at this tournament and to perform well on Saturday.”
After the game in San Jose, John Moonlight, Harry Jones, Conor Trainor and Jamie Mackenzie will meet the squad in Vancouver ahead of Canada’s match against Tonga in Burnaby on July 24.
Saturday’s game will be streamed LIVE at www.worldrugby.org and TSN – Rugby Canada’s official broadcast provider – on their “GO” online platform. Kick off is 8pm ET / 5pm PT.
Canada’s Roster vs. Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup – (Club), Hometown, Province
1 – Hubert Buydens – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
2 – Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3 – Doug Wooldridge – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
4 – Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates) Lindsay, ON
5 – Jon Phelan – (Doncaster Knights/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QB
6 – Thyssen de Goede – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
7 – Richard Thorpe – (London Welsh) Beckenham, England
8 – Tyler Ardron – (Ospreys) Lakefield, ON
9 – Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
10 – Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
11 – DTH Van Der Merwe – (Scarlets) Regina, SK
12 – Connor Braid – (Unattached/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
13 – Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay, NL
14 – Jeff Hassler – (Ospreys) Okotoks, ON
15 – Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
16 – Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
17 – Djustice Sears-Duru – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
18 – Andrew Tiedemann – (Plymouth Albion/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
19 – Tyler Hotson – (Doncaster Knights) Vancouver, BC
20 – Callum Morrison – (UBC Old Boys Ravens/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
21 – Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
22 – Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
23 – Phil Mackenzie – (Sale Sharks/Ontario Blues), Oakville, ON
Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Kyle Gilmour – (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
Evan Olmstead – (Parramatta Two Blues/Prairie Wolf Pack) Sydney, Australia
Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac/Atlantic Rock) Montreal QB
James Pritchard – (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
Jamie Cudmore – (Clermont Auvergne) Squamish, BC
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Jason Marshall – (Agen/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Taylor Paris – (Agen) Barrie, ON
Jebb Sinclair – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock) Fredericton, NB
Canada Senior Men’s Schedule:
Pacific Nations Cup:
July 18 – Canada vs. Japan (San Jose, USA)
July 24 – Canada vs. Tonga (Swangard Stadium, Burnaby)
July 29 – Canada vs. Samoa (BMO Field, Toronto)
August 3 – Canada vs. TBD (Swangard Stadium, Burnaby)
Road to the Rugby World Cup:
August 22 – Canada vs. USA (Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa)
August 29 – Canada vs. Glasgow Warriors (Wanderers Grounds, Halifax)
September 2 – Canada vs. Georgia (Esher, England)
September 6 – Canada vs. Fiji (The Stoop, England)
Rugby World Cup:
September 19 – Canada vs. Ireland (Cardiff, Wales)
September 26 – Canada vs. Italy (Leeds, England)
October 1 – Canada vs. France (Milton Keynes, England)
October 6 – Canada vs. Romania (Leicester, England)