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Canada Opt For Experience

Canada Opt For Experience

Canada coach Kieran Crowley has named his team for Saturday’s GUINNESS Series 2008 encounter with Ireland, making seven changes to the side that had eight points to spare over Portugal in Lisbon last weekend.

The Canadians flew into Ireland last Sunday and have been training at Garryowen FC this week, ahead of the second match of their European tour.

They secured a 21-13 victory over Portugal last Saturday in Lisbon, thanks to tries from Adam Kleeberger and James Pritchard, who kicked a conversion and three penalty goals.

Bolstered by the arrival of their professional players from Britain and France, Canada will field an experienced and powerfully-built side against Ireland.

Hooker Pat Riordan, set for his 18th Test start, will captain the Canucks from the front row, alongside Glasgow Warriors prop Kevin Tkachuk and veteran Jon Thiel.

Thiel is one of the changes in the pack, replacing Mike Pletch. There is a new second row combination in Mike Burak (6ft 7in) and Josh Jackson (6ft 6in).

Sean Michael Stephen is also in ahead of Andrew Fagan to take the blindside flanker berth.

In the backs, there are three changes. The pacy Justin Mensah-Coker, a team-mate of Stephen’s at Plymouth Albion, has been preferred to Dean Van Camp on the left wing.

Ciaran Hearn will start for the first time on the right wing, with Phil Mackenzie dropping to the replacements bench, while Canada’s 2007 Rugby World Cup captain Morgan Williams, who is back out of retirement, has been kept in reserve – Ed Fairhurst will start in his place at scrum half.

Ander Monro is fit to start at number 10 after recovering from the lower leg strain he sustained against Portugal. The uncapped Matt Evans provides out-half cover on the bench.

Canada coach Kieran Crowley, who guided the New Zealand Under-19s to the World Championship in 2007, said that despite having to bring some new faces in for this second week, it has been a relatively seamless process.

“The new guys have been great – getting stuck right in – and understanding what we are trying to achieve,” Crowley said.

“It is a big test of this team – that is why they are called Tests – and we have to see if the systems we are putting in place will stand up to what Ireland has to offer.

“It’s not enough to just turn up and put the jersey on, you have to believe in the guys in that locker room – and know they will be there for you when things get tough.

“These guys aren’t there yet, but I sense they are getting close.”

CANADA TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Ireland, GUINNESS Series 2008, Thomond Park Stadium, Saturday, November 8, kick-off 5.15pm):

15: James Pritchard (Bedford Blues)

14: Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers)

13: Bryn Keys (Velox Valhallians)

12: Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish)

11: Justin Mensah-Coker (Plymouth Albion)

10: Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy)

9: Ed Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates)

1: Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors)

2: Pat Riordan (University of Victoria Vikings) (capt)

3: Jon Thiel (Bayside Sharks)

4: Mike Burak (Cornish Pirates)

5: Josh Jackson (Bordeaux Begles)

6: Sean Michael Stephen (Plymouth Albion)

7: Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria Vikings)

8: Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins)


16: Mike Pletch (Velox Valhallians)

17: Frank Walsh (Vandals RFC)

18: Tyler Hotson (Eastern Suburbs, Australia)

19: Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers)

20: Morgan Williams (James Bay Athletic Association)

21: Matt Evans (Hartpury College)

22: Phil Mackenzie (University of Victoria Vikings)