Jeff Hassler is set to make his first test appearance for Canada since the 2015 World Cup. The Ospreys winger is one of 35 players named by Kingsley Jones in a training squad that will depart for England on Friday to prepare for the upcoming Americas 2 World Cup Qualifying series against Uruguay. Hassler will be joined by a dozen European-based players in a group that also includes four players yet to win a senior cap for Canada.
France-born hooker Martial Lagain is one of three hookers named. The Sherbrooke Abénakis and Atlantic Rock representative has been playing for Westshore recently and is preferred to NOLA Gold signing Eric Howard. BC Bears loose forwards Luke Campbell and Dustin Dobravsky are selected. The latter was part of Canada’s side that played the Māori at BC Place in November. Their provincial teammate Doug Fraser, an Americas Pacific Challenge veteran, completes the uncapped quartet.
First choice flyhalf Shane O’Leary has been included though he remains short of match fitness after undergoing ankle surgery in November. Gordon McRorie has recovered from a shoulder injury after missing out on the November tests. Taylor Paris and Brett Beukeboom are also fit to participate but there is no place for Matt Evans or Andrew Coe, both fullbacks ruled out due to injury. Also missing are long-term casualties Ciaran Hearn and Conor Trainor.
Canada had a difficult year in 2017, winning just two of their 13 matches (11 tests) last year and dropping the Americas 1 World Cup Qualifying series to the USA. This will be the first time they will contest the Americas 2 spot. After a week’s training in the UK they will return for the first leg to take place at BC Place in Vancouver on January 27, a match that also doubles as the first round of the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship. The second leg takes place a week later at the Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo.
Hubert Buydens (New Orleans Gold, US), Anthony Luca (Burnaby Lake), Djustice Sears-Duru (Ealing Trailfinders, UK), Ray Barkwill (Seattle Seawolves, US), Martial Lagain (Westshore), Benoît Pifféro (Blagnac, FR), Jake Ilnicki (Newcastle Falcons, UK), Cole Keith (James Bay), Matt Tierney (Pau, FR), Brett Beukeboom (Cornish Pirates, UK), Josh Larsen (Northland, NZ), Evan Olmstead (Newcastle Falcons, UK), Kyle Baillie (London Scottish, UK), Luke Campbell (James Bay), Dustin Dobravsky (Castaway Wanderers), Matt Heaton (Darlington Mowden Park, UK), Lucas Rumball (James Bay), Tyler Ardron (Chiefs, NZ), Admir Cejvanovic (Burnaby Lake)
Andrew Ferguson (Westshore), Phil Mack (capt., Seattle Seawolves, US), Gordon McRorie (Calgary Hornets), Connor Braid (James Bay), Shane O’Leary (Ealing Trailfinders, UK), Patrick Parfrey (James Bay), Nick Blevins (Calgary Hornets), Guiseppe du Toit (UVic Vikes), Doug Fraser (Castaway Wanderers), Ben LeSage (UBC Thunderbirds), DTH van der Merwe (Newcastle Falcons, UK), Jeff Hassler (Ospreys, UK), Kainoa Lloyd (Mississauga Blues), Dan Moor (Oxford University, UK), Taylor Paris (Castres, FR), Brock Staller (Seattle Seawolves, US)
A detailed roster list can be seen here.