Former McMaster Marauders’ rugby player Mike Pletch makes his first start as a hooker on Saturday (June 14) as Canada takes on Argentina A in the Barclays Churchill Cup.
The 25-year-old Pletch will be making the transition from prop after showing quite a bit of accuracy in his throwing during a recent 26-10 loss to Scotland A. Pletch will be joined by Oakville Crusaders teammate Andrew Wilson and Aaron Carpenter from the Brantford Harlequins. Carpenter retains his place at No. 8 for the match.
Canada coach Kieran Crowley has shown a vote of confidence making only a few changes for the game at Fletchers Fields in Markham.
In this lineup, Crowley, who will be at the helm for just his second game, will give Luke Cudmore his first full Canada start after getting on the field as a blood sub and a full sub last weekend against Scotland, and Bry Keys, the bi-seasonal player who plays for Velox in the winter months and Aurora Barbarians in Ontario in the summer months, expands his Canada portfolio to 15, after also playing for Canada in Sevens earlier this year.
Crowley told a Toronto news conference earlier in the week that he felt fitness in the later stages of the game was a bit of a concern, but there were positives to build on as well.
“It was a good first run out I think, but we have covered lots at training, and I think addressed some of the problem areas that came around late in the match against Scotland,” said Crowley of his second full week with the Canadian team. He says the fact that Argentina fell to the same Scottish side on Wednesday night will make Saturday’s contest all the more compelling.
“I think both teams have a lot to play for and there will be some exciting rugby played between two fairly young sides,” said Crowley. The lineup includes Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors), Pletch, Scott Franklin (Cornish Pirates), Stu Ault (Barrhaven Scottish), Luke Cudmore (London Irish), Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria), Wilson, Carpenter, Eddie Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates) (c), Ander Monro (Colorno, Italy), Justin Mensah-Coker (Plymouth Albion), David Spicer (Auch), Keys, James Pritchard (Bedford, Eng), Mike Pyke (Montauban, Fra).