Final Trial for Hawks Hopefuls

The final roll of the dice for players hoping to catch the eye of USA national team selectors is fast approaching (Photo: Gene Thorpe Photography).
Final Trial for Hawks Hopefuls

Sunday, October 7 is the date set aside for a NORTH versus SOUTH select side trial match.

Two 17-man squads are being finalized by USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson (SOUTH) and assistant coach Brent Richardson (NORTH).

The game will be played over two, 40-minute halves with only ten interchanges being allowed as opposed to unlimited interchanges which is normally the case in USA Rugby League club matches.

The idea is that players will go flat out to give the coaches a final opportunity to assess their potential for inclusion in the national team train-on squad.

Originally USA Rugby League and Canada Rugby League Association had looked at staging a USA Selects versus Canada Selects trial game in Toronto in late September, but Hawks team manager Billy Neilson says that match couldn’t be finalized in time, leaving both national governing bodies needing to make alternative arrangements.

“Unfortunately, we didn't have the finances to make the Canada match work, but we are trying to get the boys as much game time as possible. This also gives ‘Rutcho’ another look for selections.”

Rutgerson says the trial game, to be played in Tampa, will be a last hitout for domestic-based players hoping to represent the USA in the Americas region qualifying series for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

“Because we didn’t get a game against anyone else, we need to see how these guys perform under pressure. This is what we’re going to choose our squad from for the qualifiers, so this is probably their last opportunity to show me what they’ve got. The stakes are high. This is an opportunity.”

The Hawks will compete against Canada, Jamaica and newbies Chile for the Americas berth at the next World Cup in the UK.

There will be two doubleheaders with the winners of the opening two games playing off for the right to go through to England in 2021.

That qualifying series will be played in Jacksonville, FL, in mid-November.