Ciaran Hearn

17th ranked Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team set to face 13th seeded Italy to close out #RISEAsOne June Summer Series on Sunday at BMO Field in downtown Toronto; Newfoundland’s Hearn to join elite company as 16th man to win 50 Caps for Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO – Ciaran Hearn will become the 16th man to win 50 test caps for Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team on Sunday when they host Italy at BMO Field in downtown Toronto. The addition of Hearn at outside centre in place of Mozac Samson is the only change by head coach Mark Anscombe from last Saturday’s 46-21 win over Russia in Calgary.

“I don’t really pay attention to the numbers,” Hearn said. “I just go out whenever I can to play for my country and try to do the best I can. I’m not thinking about the 50th, I’m just thinking about going out there and getting a win in this next one.”

The 30-year-old spent the past season with London Irish after joining the English outfit after a successful 2015 Rugby World Cup. Hearn returned to Canada’s men’s sevens program last weekend for their Rio 2016 Repechage qualifier before flying back to Canada to link up with the senior men’s team for their final RISEAsOne Summer Series match of the summer.

Veteran Jamie Cudmore will once again captain the team as Canada looks to overturn a narrow 23-18 loss to Italy at last year’s Rugby World Cup. Djustice Sears-Duru, Ray Barkwill and Jake Ilnicki form the front row with Evan Olmstead starting alongside Cudmore at lock. Kyle Baillie and Lucas Rumball join Aaron Carpenter to complete the forward pack.

Gordon McRorie, who scored 26 points last weekend against Russia, starts at scrum half with St. John’s Pat Parfrey at fly-half. Ontario natives Taylor Paris and Dan Moor man the wings with Hearn pairing with Nick Blevins in centre and Matt Evans starting at fullback.

“We want to keep growing,” Anscombe said. “This is our last game after four weeks together. The progress is important and we have to keep showing that. The boys have trained well and the spirits are high.”

Seventeenth ranked Canada opened its RISEAsOne Summer Series with a 26-22 defeat to Japan at Vancouver’s BC Place before rebounding for a comprehensive win over the Russians last weekend. Italy, ranked 13th in the world, lost 30-24 to Argentina in the first game of their tour before collecting a narrow 24-20 against the USA last weekend in San Jose.

“They have a lot of the same faces and are very strong,” Anscombe said. “They’re very forward orientated, good strong scrum, good mauling lineout and like to play a power game and we’re going to have to be very alert.”

In last year’s meeting, Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe’s scintillating try created endless excitement around the rugby world which was later followed up by Matt Evans’ fantastic solo effort creating two of the most most memorable Canadian Rugby World Cup tries.

Canada and Italy have met eight previous times since their inaugural clash in 1983 with Canada winning twice. Italy has won the last five matchups including a 25-16 victory at BMO Field in June of 2012.