The second of Canada’s International Rugby Board series fixtures takes place Saturday (Nov. 17) when the National Senior Men’s Team takes on Russia at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay in Wales.
Reflecting on the 42-12 defeat to Samoa on Nov. 9, the coaching staff decided several changes to the side were needed. The front three have been replaced, while the half-back partnership is new, with Eric Wilson and Harry Jones making their first starts for the NSMT.
Jebb Sinclair, fresh from his Currie Cup victory with Western Province, arrived in Wales after the Samoa fixture, and is in the second row. The back line sees changes on the wing, with Taylor Paris swapping to the left wing, while Jeff Hassler starts on the right. Nick Blevins, who replaced Phil Mackenzie (Oakville) during the Samoa game, starts in place of the London Welsh centre, after impressing last Friday. Mackenzie stays as a replacement.
McMaster Marauders’ Tyler Ardron returns to the lineup.
“Jason Marshall came in late and wasn’t here for the majority of the week. He has been our number one target all the way through,” offered head coach Kieran Crowley about the changes to the side.
“We managed Ryan Hamilton back into the game last week, and although Hubert Buydens has been playing well, we need to look at our loosehead prop cover on this tour. Andrew Tiedemann can do both sides, so that’s the change there. “Jebb wasn’t available last week, but he has been one of our first choice locks for the last couple of games.
“Sean White is out injured, so Wilson is in as an enforced replacement, and Phil Mack has joined us to cover there. We have put Harry Jones in at ten. That is another position, the same as loosehead, where we need to look at our options. Connor Braid has had two games in the ARC (Americas Rugby Championship) as well as last week, and we are pleased with his performances, so he will get some game time off the bench. We need to make sure that we give guys the experience in these positions.
“Nick Blevins has come in to twelve – that’s injury forced as well. Hassler is in on the wing, also injury enforced, so you know there are a number of changes because of injuries.”
Speaking about the threat posed by Russia, Crowley added: “I thought they got better as the game went on last week. They have a couple of strong ball-carrying wingers. They did a lot of physical one off running, so they have threats on that side of the game. If they get their kicking game right, that’s pretty good too.
“But we have been working hard this week, and hopefully we can come up trumps.”
In their last fixture, the Russians lost to the U.S., 40-26. Like Canada in their game against Samoa, the Russians ended their game strongly, after losing three first half tries to the U.S. before coming back in the second period. Russian full-back Igor Klyuchnikov kicked four out of five place kicks for an 11 point haul, with their tries coming from winger Vladimir Ostroushko, with back rower Andrey Temnov scoring twice.
Canada and Russia have met twice previously, with Canada winning, 22-6, in 2009 in Vancouver, before beating the Russians again, 34-18, in June 2011 at Esher, during the Churchill Cup held in England.
Aaron Carpenter scored the only try of that first game, while Justin Mensah-Coker, Conor Trainor, Ander Monro, Chauncey O’Toole and Matt Evans crossed the line in the Churchill Cup fixture.
James Pritchard, Ryan Hamilton, Tyler Hotson, Jebb Sinclair, Chauncey O’Toole and current NSMT captain Aaron Carpenter all started that fixture, with Andrew Tiedemann, Hubert Buydens, Nanyak Dala and Mackenzie playing as used replacements.
This is the final fixture of the IRB International Rugby Series, before the squad travels to Oxford, next Friday (Nov. 23) to play the NZ Maori All Blacks.