Canada has made six changes to the side which defeated the USA Eagles on Saturday for the blockbuster clash with Six Nations side Italy at BMO Field in Toronto on Friday night.
Four of those changes have made to the forward pack, with hooker Mike Pletch coming in for the injured Ryan Hamilton and incumbent tighthead prop Jason Marshall returning to the starting side.
Lock Jebb Sinclair is handed his first start since returning from a stint with South African Super 15 side the Stormers, and young blindside flanker Tyler Adron gets an opportunity after impressing at training.
Coach Kieran Crowley said the while it was good to get the win against the USA, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We were happy with the result, but we squandered a lot of opportunities through not seeing the space and through our own mistakes. We attacked the areas that we wanted to attack, but didn’t do so well with our continuity after that,” Coach Crowley said.
“Italy will be a lot stronger than the USA, so we won’t get away with the mistakes we made last week. Cutting out the errors in our game is the big focus for us, and if we can improve our continuity then the points will come.”
Along with the changes to the forward pack, two new wingers have been included in the starting side with Phil MacKenzie and Conor Trainor coming in to an otherwise unchanged backline.
Coach Crowley said the changes weren’t made to combat Italy’s strengths but rather were about picking the best side available.
“The Italians have a very good scrum and very good set piece generally, and the physical battle is an area they pride themselves on. We will have to step up to try and disrupt their drive and their scrum, and focus on putting them on the ground so we can attack from there,” added Coach Crowley.
“But our concentration is on what we can bring to the game. We can only worry about what we can control.”
Andrew Tieldmann, Nanyak Dala and Ciaran Hearn drop back to the bench after starting against the USA last week, while Liam Underwood, Edward Fairhurst and Jon Phelan are the new faces in the reserves.
Underwood has been handed his first appearance for the national side after also impressing at training since being called into the squad as a late injury replacement, while Montreal based lock Phelan is also being given another opportunity at the international level.
“These guys need more games at this level, because if there is an injury and they are called upon they will realise it”s a whole new ball game at this level.” Coach Crowley said.
The match against Italy at BMO Field in Toronto kicks off at 7:00pm EST.
Canada (Name - club team, home town)
1. Hubert Buydens – Prairie Wolf Pack (Saskatoon, SK)
2. Mike Pletch – Ontario Blues (Lucan,ON)
3. Jason Marshall - Stade Aurillacois (North Vancouver, BC)
4. Jebb Sinclair - London Irish / Stormers (Charters Settlement, NB)
5. Tyler Hotson – London Scottish RFC (Vancouver, BC)
6. Tyler Ardron - Ontario Blues (Lakefield ON)
7. Chauncey O”Toole – The Rock (Belleisle, NB)
8. Aaron Carpenter (C) - Plymouth Albion (Brantford, ON)
9. Sean White – Unattached (Victoria, BC)
10. Matt Evans - Cornish Pirates (Duncan, BC)
11. Phil Mackenzie - London Welsh RFC (Oakville, Ontario)
12. Mike Scholz - Ontario Blues (Oakville, ON)
13. D.T.H. van der Merwe - Glasgow Warriors (Victoria, BC)
14. Conor Trainor – British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
15. James Pritchard - Bedford Blues (Parkes, Australia, NSW)
16. Andrew Tiedemann – Prairie Wolf Pack (St. Albert, AB)
17. Tom Dolezel – Ontario Blues (London, ON)
18. Jon Phelan – The Rock (Montreal, QC)
19. Nanyak Dala - Prairie Wolf Pack (Saskatoon, SK)
20. ED Fairhurst – British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
21. Liam Underwood – Ontario Blues (Toronto, ON)
22. Ciaran Hearn - The Rock (Conception Bay South, NL)
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley
Assistant Coaches: Geraint John, Neil Barnes, Clive Griffiths
Strength and Conditioning: Matt Barr
Athletic Therapists: Carla Brash, Carrie Smith
Doctor: Dr. Joe Lemoine
Performance Analyst: Peter Huigenbois
Manager: Gareth Rees
Assistant Manager: Mark Winokur