The USARL Hawks have named a preliminary 35 man pre-select squad to face Canada for two matches in September and October as well as the lead up to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2017) Qualifiers for the Americas.
After six weeks of USARL competition that is now nearing the finals, the 35 players have been chosen based on their performances as well as a selection camp that was held in DeLand, Florida on July 12. Further selection camps will take place in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions over the coming weeks. The squad will eventually be cut down to 21 for the matches against Canada, and the RLWC2017 Qualifiers against Canada and Jamaica.
A promising factor is that 28 of the 35 players in the pre-select squad have not represented the USA before, which is evidence of the development of rugby league in the US.
USARL Chairman Peter Illfield who has assumed the coaches role in preparation for Brian McDermott to take over in the World Cup Qualifiers was excited by the new talent that have taken to rugby league since the USARL was formed. “I have been surprised with the quality of the players that have been selected. Watch out for the younger players coming through like Terrance Williams, Roman Lowery, David Aguilar, Shaun Chowdhury and Urban Iyo,” Illfield said.
The squad of 35 is also a testament to the quality that is spread across the competition as each of the USARL teams has at least one person in the squad. The 2014 premiers, the Philadelphia Fight, have been rewarded with 7 selections. The squad of 35 is not a finalized squad as of yet, and players can force their way into the squad with strong displays of rugby league over the next few rounds.
“The pre-selection gives recognition to those who stand out and to provide motivation for others to compete for positions,” Illfield said.
The competition for positions aims to improve the standard of rugby league across the USARL competition in preparation for the World Cup Qualifiers, the dates of which will be released very soon by the Rugby League International Federation. The players will continue training with their clubs, participate in training camps and assemble prior to the international matches. Training as a squad is difficult because of the distance between clubs. “Specific Strength and conditioning programs will be provided to the squad to better prepare them for the rigorous schedule ahead. Skill camps will be scheduled prior to the USARL National Championship Final on August 29, and leading up to our international commitments.” Illfield said.
The goal is for the Hawks to qualify for the RLWC2017 in Australia and New Zealand, and to continue the success from RLWC2013 in Great Britain and France.
The 35-man USARL Hawks pre-select squad is as follows: