Canada will face favourites USA to determine the winners of the 2017 Americas Championship on Saturday evening, at Lamport Stadium, Toronto.
The Wolverines, who suffered a shock loss in Jamaica in game two - the Hawks having beaten the Reggae Warriors in Florida - need to win by 29 points to stop their neighbours retaining the trophy.
The match will be played as a double-header after Toronto Wolfpack complete their League 1 promotion season with a match against Doncaster, who are chasing a play off spot, and three of the Wolfpack have been included in the Canadian squad – half back Rhys Jacks, exciting teenager Quinn Ngawati and prop Tom Dempsey. Ulverston’s Ruairi McGoff is also included.
The match will also act as the last for domestic players in the USARL to claim a place in Brian McDermott’s USA squad for the 2017 World Cup, with ten clubs represented. New Hull FC recruit for 2018, winger Bureta Faraimo is included as is Wolfpack’s Joe Eichner and hat-trick scorer against Jamaica, Junior Vaivai.
“We've been brave, but just failed in our execution,” said Canada coach Ben Fleming of their recent performances. “That just comes down to playing together more, but then also playing consistently.
“For any Canada versus USA game there is certainly a love-hate relationship when it comes to sport, with an underlying level of respect. In rugby league we tend to have some very close matches, both games last year the USA won in the last few minutes.”
Fleming added: “We need to play to our strengths and execute accordingly. I think we've identified where we are strong, it’s now just a matter of staying composed under pressure and trusting and believing in what we are good at.”
Hawks assistant coach Sean Rutgerson takes charge whilst McDermott finishes his Super League commitments. “With this being our last chance to prepare for the World Cup in Australia and PNG, we have selected a strong team and all the boys will be playing for spots in the squad,” he said.
“We are really looking forward to playing against Canada at their home ground with what looks to be a massive home crowd. We really want that cup so I'm sure it's going to be a great game.”
CANADA 21-MAN SQUAD
Jason Hignell, Connor Hunter (Abbotsford Griffins); Jon Cregg, Denny McCarthy, Christian Miller (Brantford Broncos); Jack Couzens (Capilano Cougars); Wes Black, Jared Curry, Jeff Lohse (Kelowna Roosters); Emil Borggren, Eddie Bilborough (C), Cam Grace, Chuck Curran, Nick Hails, Andrew Giguere, Danny Topou, (Toronto RLFC); Tom Dempsey, Rhys Jacks, Quinn Ngawati, (Toronto Wolfpack); Ruairi McGoff (Ulverston, England); Scyler Dumas (Vancouver Dragons)
USA 18-MAN SQUAD
Fotukava Hiko Malu, Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos), Mike Elias (Boston 13s), Taylor Alley, Bart Longchamp (Central Florida Warriors), Martwain Johnston (Deleware Black Foxes), Pio Vatuvei (Jacksonville Axemen), Joshua Rice (New York Knights), Bureta Faraimo (NZ Warriors), Chris Frazier (Northern Virginia Eagles), Gabriel Farley, Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight), Jonathon St John, David Ulch (Tampa Mayhem), Joe Eichner (Toronto Wolfpack), Junior Vaivai (West Devils, Illawarra), Charles J Cortalano, Matthew Walsh (White Plains Wombats)