Canada name squad for Gold Coast Sevens
Canada’s men’s Sevens head coach Geraint John has announced his 12-man squad for the first round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia on 12-13 October.
The announcement comes ahead of a busy two-month schedule for Canada’s men’s programme with matches in the IRB Americas Rugby Championship, a match against the New Zealand Maori, November Tests against Georgia, Romania and Portugal and the first three rounds of the Sevens in Australia, Dubai and South Africa.
Captaining the Sevens side to the Gold Coast will be Nathan Hirayama, who finished third in last season’s points-scoring table with 241, behind only Fiji’s Joji Raqamate (247) and England’s Dan Norton (264).
Hirayama also captained Canada to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in June, where they lost only one match - to eventual champions New Zealand - and finished as Plate winners.
Several of last season’s stalwarts return with Nanyak Dala, John Moonlight, Hirayama, Ciaran Hearn, Lucas Hammond, Justin Douglas, Harry Jones and Mike Fuailefau all making the squad.
Connor Braid returns after spending the first half of last season with the Doncaster Knights in England and test cap Sean Ferguson also features after impressing in the Canadian Rugby Championship, which is a key part of Canada's selection criteria.
Eleven players unavailable
Eleven players were unavailable to coach John, though. Tyler Ardron, Jeff Hassler and Phil Mack (temporarily) are playing for the Ospreys in Wales; Taylor Paris is at Agen in France this season; Chauncey O’Toole and Thyssen de Goode are unavailable due to personal commitments; speedster Sean Duke recently underwent shoulder surgery, while young wing Jake Webster is also sidelined with a leg injury.
Conor Trainor, Mike Scholz and Adam Kleeberger have all previously competed for Canada on the World Series, but have not been selected due to injury.
"Conor, Mike and Adam are all recovering from knocks and we feel they’re not quite game-ready," said John. "However, we’re hoping they will be available to return for the Americas Rugby Championship at some point in October."
"Having a large number of players unavailable for selection allows for a deeper roster and more opportunities for our younger players," he added.
"It also allows us an opportunity to create more depth in the case of injuries and gives the coaching staff some freedom in fielding the best possible squad while ensuring no one is over worked beyond their limits."
Debutants given chance
Making their first appearances on the World Series Circuit will be Pat Parfrey and Pat Kay, who grew up on opposite sides of the country in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Duncan, British Columbia respectively.
“Pat (Kay) had a great tournament at the Junior World Rugby Trophy as captain of the Under 20 side and also played well in the Victoria Sevens, World Games and University Sevens, where he won Man of the Tournament,” added John.
“Pat Parfrey is relatively new to the game of Rugby Sevens, but competed well in this summer’s Pacific Nations Cup, Victoria Sevens and with The Rock in the Canadian Rugby Championship.”
Canada depart for the Gold Coast on 4 October and will face Fiji, Wales and Portugal in Pool C.
Canada Sevens squad - Gold Coast Sevens: Connor Braid - (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC, Nanyak Dala - (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK, Justin Douglas - (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC, Sean Ferguson - (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC, Mike Fuailefau - (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC, Lucas Hammond - (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON, Ciaran Hearn - (Castaway Wanderers/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL, Nathan Hirayama, Captain - (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC, Harry Jones - (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC, Pat Kay - (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Duncan, BC, John Moonlight - (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON, Pat Parfrey - (Swilers RFC/The Rock) St. Johns, NL