Led by captain Phil Mack, Canada’s 23-man side to play Kenya Simbas on Sunday at 3pm includes 11 players in the starting 15 with previous RWC experience and another four on the bench.
“We have had an good 12 days on the ground in Europe, including our fixtures against Oxford and Coventry, with a wider group of players, which has allowed us to continue to grow depth and momentum leading into this weekend’s game against Kenya,” said Jones.
“We have been able to have competition for a number of positions which is vital,” added Jones. ‘With three games in 18 days depth in each position could prove to be critical.’
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Sunday will see the return of Matt Evans, who scored two tries against Oxford last week, to test match rugby for the first time since November 2016. Brampton, Ontario’s Mike Sheppard could win his test debut off the bench.
Kenya hold the 28th position in World Rugby rankings, while Canada sits at 23rd. Kenya qualified for the repechage through claiming 2nd place at the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two nations in international men’s rugby. Kenya is captained by Davis Chenge and coached by New Zealander Ian Snook.
With the format being a winner-takes-all scenario, it’s vitally important for Canada to start the tournament off with a strong performance to secure a bonus point victory, by scoring four or more tries.
“We’re expecting a big, strong and confident Kenyan side, Kenya are a team that have the ability to score from any situation, if you switch of mentally they are the sort of side that can score 21 points in five minutes. We need to be at our best for the whole 80 minutes come Sunday,” added Jones.
Canada’s roster to face Kenya:
1. Hubert Buydens – NOLA Gold/Prairie Wolf Pack (Saskatoon, SK)
2. Ray Barkwill – Seattle Seawolves/Ontario Blues (Niagara Falls, ON)
3. Jake Ilnicki – Yorkshire Carnegie/BC Bears (Williams Lake, BC)
4. Brett Beukeboom – Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues (Lindsay, ON)
5. Evan Olmstead – Auckland/Prairie Wolf Pack (Vancouver, BC)
6. Kyle Baillie –Westshore RFC/Atlantic Rock (Summerside, PEI)
7. Matt Heaton – Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock (Godmanchester, QC)
8. Tyler Ardron – Chiefs/Ontario Blues (Lakefield, ON)
9. Phil Mack – Captain,Seattle Seawolves/BC Bears (Victoria, BC)
10. Gordon McRorie – Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
11. DTH van der Merwe – Glasgow Warriors (Victoria, BC)
12. Nick Blevins – Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
13. Ben LeSage – UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
14. Matt Evans – Cornish Pirates (Maple Bay, BC)
15. Theo Sauder – UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears (Vancouver, BC)
16. Eric Howard – NOLA Gold/Ontario Blues (Ottawa, ON)
17. Djustice Sears-Duru – Unattached/Ontario Blues (Oakville, ON)
18. Matt Tierney – Pau/Ontario Blues (Oakville, ON)
19. Mike Sheppard – Stoney Creek Camels/Ontario Blues (Brampton, ON)
20. Lucas Rumball – Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues (Mississauga, ON)
21. Jamie Mackenzie – Balmy Beach/Atlantic Rock (Oakville, ON)
22. Ciaran Hearn – London Irish/Atlantic Rock (Conception Bay South, NL)
23. Conor Trainor – USON Nevers/BC Bears (Vancouver, BC)
-Story by Canada