Captained by Ontario’s Andrew Coe, 2015 standouts Phil Berna, Matt Tierney, Theo Sauder, Cali Martinez, Adrian Wadden, Reegan O’Gorman and Luke Bradley are all named to the starting XV. Brendan Blaikie is on the bench.
“With nine returning players, six in the forwards and three in the backs, it is very balanced,” Williams said. “The preparations thus far have been good. We have had two camps and within the last camp a more focused approach to our set pieces and nine play.
“It is always good to see what players are able to apply the skills and game plan that we have tried to implement.”
Canada’s 23-man squad also features international sevens experience as Trenton Cooper and Aaron Evison have recently competed for Canada’s developmental side, the Maple Leafs.
Cali Martinez, Andrew Quattrin and Matt Tierney form a strong front row with Conor Keys and Reegan O’Gorman getting the start at lock. Courtenay, BC, native Nakai Penny joins returnees Wadden and Bradley in the back row.
North Vancouver’s Cole Keffer starts at scrum half with Robbie Povey getting the nod at fly half.
Canada’s back line is full of exceptional talent as Sauder and Trenton Cooper man the wings with George Barton and Berna lining up at centre. Captain Coe starts at fullback.
Thirty-nine players were brought to two camps before a final squad of 25 was selected for the qualifier. Both camps were held at Shawnigan Lake School and the second camp concluded with a 44-7 win over Castaway Wanderers at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC.
Last year, Canada beat the USA over a two-leg qualification series by scores of 24-23 and 45-6 to seal their spot at the 2015 World Rugby U20 Trophy where they’d go on to record their best ever finish of second place.
However, this time around it’s a one-game qualification match in Austin, Texas, with the winner advancing to the tournament in Zimbabwe in April.
“The USA will be tough,” Williams said. “They are playing at home with lots of momentum on their side. New coaches bring new energy and new ideas. I expect a physical encounter Saturday night.”
Saturday’s game kicks off at 9:45pm ET / 6:45pm PT and will be streamed LIVE at www.usarugby.org
Canada’s Roster for the World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier vs. USA (Name, club, hometown)
1. Cali Martinez (UBC Thunderbirds), Vancouver, BC
2. Andrew Quattrin (Aurora Barbarians), Holland Landing, ON
3. Matt Tierney (Pau), Oakville, ON
4. Reegan O’Gorman (Marist Albion), Vancouver, BC
5. Conor Keys (UVic), Stittsville, ON
6. Adrian Wadden (Oakville Crusaders), Oakville, ON
7. Nakai Penny (UBC Thunderbirds), Courtenay, BC
8. Luke Bradley (UVIC Vikes), Port Alberni, BC
9. Cole Keffer (UBC Thunderbirds), North Vancouver, BC
10. Robbie Povey (Lutton RFC), England
11. Theo Sauder (UBC Thunderbirds), Vancouver, BC
12. George Barton (Clermont Espoirs), Duncan, BC
13. Phil Berna (UBC Thunderbirds), Vancouver, BC
14. Trenton Cooper (James Bay AA), Zephyr, ON
15. Andrew Coe, Captain (UBC Thunderbirds), Toronto, ON
16. Conor Sampson (UBC Thunderbirds), Vancouver, BC
17. Brendan Blaikie (Queen’s University), Toronto, ON
18. Curtis Delmonico (UBCOB Ravens), Vancouver, BC
19. Matt Beukeboom (Queen’s University), Lindsay, ON
20. Peter Milazzo (Toronto Saracens), Toronto, ON
21. Keaton Porter (Aurora Barbarians), Barrie, ON
22. Mitch Richardson (Stoney Creek Camels), Stoney Creek, ON
23. Aaron Evison (James Bay AA), Golden, BC
U20 Coaching Staff:
Head Coach – Jeff Williams
Assistant Coach – Kenny Goodland
Strength and Conditioning coach – Gareth Lynch
Manager – Jack Hanratty
Video Analyst – Aaron Takle
Head Therapist – Jessica Smith
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