“As John has been unable to train with the team due to course commitments, the team will be captained in New Zealand by Harry Jones and in Australia by Nate Hirayama,” McGrath said. “Moonlight will join up with the squad in Wellington and be available for both legs.
“It’s important to have your leaders around in practice as well as games so it’s great having Nate and Harry to lead the team and they’re just sharing the load so John doesn’t have to worry and he can focus on just playing.”
However, there is a first senior call-up for Isaac Kaay while Lucas Hammond also returns to the fold.
“Lucas has proven himself on the series before and he’s a great boost to the squad,” McGrath said. “Isaac has impressed me in training, he’s a big physical unit and he will bring that hard edge to some of our forward play. It’s disappointing to lose Liam and Phil but we haven’t loss anything with these additions.”
In Wellington, Canada has been drawn into Pool D with Wales, Scotland and Russia. Canada is 1-0 against Russia this season while they lost their lone game against Wales. Canada has yet to play Scotland. Canada is 11-16 all-time against Scotland, while they are 13-30-1 against Wales. Canada has won 16 of their 24 meetings with Russia.
“I have a sneaky feeling we could beat either Wales or Scotland and grab a quarterfinal place and I think our performances not just this year, but the past 12 months, that’s something we deserve,” McGrath said.
Canada is coming off of a 13th place finish in Cape Town and currently sit 13th in the 2016-17 season standings.
Through two events, Pat Kay leads Canada in scoring with 52 points while Justin Douglas has a team high seven tries. Hirayama has the opportunity to become just the second player to record 900 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series points for Canada as he currently sits on 895. Harry Jones is five points away from becoming the fifth Canadian to score 500 points.
Due to the time difference, the tournament runs January 27-28 in Canada and can be seen LIVE at www.worldrugby.org
Canada’s Men’s Sevens Squad for Wellington and Sydney (Name, club, hometown):
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (UVIC Vikes) Toronto, ON
Nathan Hirayama – captain, Sydney (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – Captain, Wellington (Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
Caleb Jordan – (Montreal Wanderers) Montreal, QC
Isaac Kaay – (UVic Vikes) Kamloops, BC
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) Belleville, ON
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Unavailable for Selection:
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Head Coach – Damian McGrath
Assistant Coach – Lee Douglas
Physiotherapist – Danielle Mah
Analyst – Calum Ramsay
Manager – Brian Hunter
Canada’s Wellington Sevens Day 1 Schedule:
Canada vs. Scotland — 5:23pm ET/2:23pm PT
Canada vs. Wales — 8:24pm ET/5:24pm PT
Canada vs. Russia — 12am ET/9pm PT