LANGFORD, BC — Canada’s Men’s Sevens Head Coach Damian McGrath has named his team for the Dubai Sevens, the opening tournament of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season.
The squad features 11 players with previous series experience while Karsten Leitner and Caleb Jordan could make their series debuts for Canada.
“It seems a long time since I agreed to take over the position and I’m just glad that we’re now getting close to the end business end of the role,” McGrath said. “After working with the players the last few weeks I’m excited to get on the plane and pit ourselves against the best the world has to offer.”
John Moonlight will captain the side while Harry Jones, Mike Fuailefau, Phil Berna, Nate Hirayama, Justin Douglas, Adam Zaruba, Pat Kay, Matt Mullins and Luke McCloskey are also selected. After missing all of last season, Liam Underwood is also named to Canada’s roster.
“I’ve gone with experience on this first one because I’ve had a limited time with the players,” McGrath said. “I’m leaning on previous experience. We’ve lost several older campaigners so we’ve really relied on the bulk on last year’s squad who are available plus a few significant newcomers such as Caleb Jordan.”
Canada will square off against reigning Olympic and series champions Fiji as well as Argentina and Wales in their pool.
“We get to play the reigning Series and Olympic champions in our first game so we get to pit ourselves against the best. It’ll certainly give us an indicator of where we are and what we need to do. I’m confident that we’ll put up a good performance.”
Nathan Hirayama enters the season with the second most points in Canadian sevens history with 861, trailing the recently retired Phil Mack by 112. Hirayama and Mack are also tied for first with conversions made with 248.
Moonlight sits on 88 tries scored and will be looking to become only the third man to score 100 tries for Canada on the HSBC Sevens Series after cousin Dave Moonlight (107) and Sean Duke (124). Harry Jones is five points shy of becoming the fifth Canadian to score 500 career point while Moonlight needs another 60 points to hit 500.
Canada heads into Dubai after dominating at the RAN 7s in Trinidad and Tobago. Canada steamrolled to victory with a perfect 5-0 record, conceding only five points all tournament while scoring 227.
Canada’s Roster for the Dubai Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC Nathan Hirayama – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Caleb Jordan – (Montreal Wanderers) Montreal, QC
Pat Kay – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
Karsten Leitner – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Luke McCloskey – (Castaway Wanderers) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON Matt Mullins – (Queen’s University/Ontario Blues) Bellville, ON
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Head Coach – Damian McGrath Assistant Coach – Lee Douglas Physiotherapist – Danielle Mah Analyst – Calum Ramsay Manager – Brian Hunter
Canada’s Day 1 Schedule:
Canada vs. Fiji — 1:52am ET/10:52pm PT Canada vs. Argentina — 5:36am ET/2:36am PT Canada vs. Wales — 10:31am ET/7:31am PT