USA, Jamaica and South Africa have announced their 30-man squads for October’s 2013 Rugby League World Cup Atlantic Qualifiers in Philadelphia.
While the hosts and the men from the Caribbean can call on players with Super League and NRL experience, the South African Rhinos are exclusively drawn from their domestic competition, with Tuks Bulls from Northern Gauteng having the most representatives.
The Tomahawks are trying to qualify for their first ever World Cup and Head Coach Matthew Elliott has called on Castleford Tigers’ utility Ryan McGoldrick who is one of one of eight players remaining from their 2007 qualifying semi final when they went down to Samoa, the others being Curtis Cunz, Louis Tulio, Matt Petersen, David Myles, Tyrone Coppedge, Mark Cantoni, and David Marando. Parramatta’s Joseph Paulo, who is in the squad, was playing for Samoa in that match. Jacksonville’s Apple Pope retains the captaincy while Kelly McGill, Jayson Rego, Johua Rice and Nate Smith are former College Football players with the University of Hawaii and the University of Louisville.
"We have had a good preparation, which started some time ago but really began to take shape when I visited Hawaii to develop team systems and player evaluations with the staff,” said Elliott. “I know the players are keen to do well and I am very excited about the tournament and the challenges we will face," he added. He will have Marcus Vassilakopoulos and Shane Millard as his assistants.
The headline inclusion for the ‘rugby reggae’ boys is Wigan’s Karl Pryce who has spent the season on loan with Harlequins, while young Leeds winger Jamal Chisholm has twice been accorded the British game’s ‘fastest man’ title in sprint challenges. Champions Duhaney Park Red Sharks and Grand Finalists Vauxhall Vultures provide five men each, Lamont Bryan of Harlequins adds experience to the pack and there is outstanding pace throughout the squad.
Jamaica Head Coach Dean Thomas noted, “I have been able to monitor the continued personal development of the players in their club environment. 2011 has seen a marked improvement in all of them and the squad has a good balance of experience and youth. Hunslet’s Waine Pryce is an ideal calming influence and there is the enthusiasm of the likes of Corey Hanson of Sheffield Eagles who at 18 has had a great break through year. All the players are extremely excited about the prospects of playing in a World Cup.”
South Africa have concluded a lucrative three year sponsorship deal with Steeden as they begin their campaign and they will also carry the legacy project "rhinoforce" on their shirt as part of a drive to raise awareness of the plight of the endangered Rhino. Their coach Steven van Zyl is confident that, although being an unknown quantity, his charges can make an impact. “We have some players playing league internationally but the squad that we currently have, have been together for a while, so they understand each other,” he said.
“We had a long chat with them and explained that we're confident with them, now all they have to do is go out and perform on the field. Although we have a relatively inexperienced team in terms of international games, we do have a very good mix of brawn and intelligence. We have played against some strong touring teams and the guys have acquitted themselves brilliantly at all times.”
Wayne Allen, Daley Lee Williams (Batley Bulldogs), Ashley Johnson (Coventry Bears), Romaen Campbell, Roy Calvert, Damon Gayle, Ryan Grant, Marvin Thompson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Joseph Brown (Gateshead Thunder), Jode Sheriffe, Paul White (Halifax), Lamont Bryan, Omari Caro (Harlequins), Ross Peltier (Huddersfield Giants), Richie Barnett, Waine Pryce (Hunslet Hawks), Jymel Coleman, Jamaine Wray (Keighley Cougars), Danny Bravo, Jamal Chisholm (Leeds Rhinos), Wesley Haughton (New Haven Warriors), Corey Hanson, Reece Williams, Sam Williamson (Sheffield Eagles), Karl Pryce (Wigan Warriors), Carlye Burgher, Jahdeek Clarke, Sandino Hastings, Tyronie Rowe, Claude Yen (Vauxhall Rugby Club)
Henry du Toit, Stevie Meyer, Gerrie Slabber, Christoff Swanepoel (Bloemfontein Roosters, Orange Free State), Francois Greyvensteyn, Christo Joubert, Andre Loader, Andre Olwagen, Rudi Prinsloo (Brakpan Bears, Eastern Gauteng), Pieter Lee (Ermelo Tomahawks, Mpumalanga Province), Johan Fritz (Middelburg Tigers, Mpumalanga Province), Hans du Plessis, Gerhard de Wet, Riaan Engelbrecht, Deon Kraemer, Christo Louw, Sivive Mpondo, JP Nel, Marcelle Slabbert, Jonothan Soares, Pieter van der Nest, Franco Vermeulen, Rupert Wells (Tuks Bulls, Northern Gauteng)
Michael Garvey, Andrew Kneisly, Louis Tulio (Aston Bulls), David Marando (Belrose Eages), Ryan McGoldrick (Castleford), Curtis Cunz, Charles Rizzo, Salesi Tongamoa (Connecticut Wildcats), Mark Offerdahl (Easts Tigers), Mitchell Stevens (Gateshead Thunder), Keiki Misipeka, Jayson Rego, Joshua Rice (Hawaii Islanders), Apple Pope (Jacksonville), Nate Smith (Louisville), Kelly McGill, Sione Taufa (Maui Voyagers), Fitz James Adams, Charles Cortalano, Ian Elliott, Justin Ripley, Sean Taylor (NY Knights), Mark Cantoni (Northern Pride), Leslie Alovili (Northern Raiders), Joseph Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Junior Paulo (Penrith Panthers), Stephen Howard (Tuggeranong Valley), Daniel Howard (Wentworthville Magpies), David Myles, Matt Peterson (unattached)