LANGFORD, B.C. â€” Scrum half Gordon McRorie will captain a young Canada side in its opening match Saturday against Argentina ‘A’ at the Americas Rugby Championship.
The Scottish-born McRorie, who qualified for Canada through residency, has captained Canada ‘A’ but not the full senior team before.
Saturday’s match at Westhills Stadium is not considered a test match because Argentina sent the Jaguars, its second team. The Pumas, the South Americans’ No. 1 squad, are ranked ninth in the world compared to No. 18 for Canada.
But Canada’s next four matches are all considered tests: against No. 29 Chile on Feb. 11 in Langford, the 17th-ranked U.S. on Feb. 18 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C., and away games Feb. 25 against No. 21 Uruguay and March 4 against No. 36 Brazil.
It’s a young Canadian starting 15 with only three players â€” McRorie and fellow backs Taylor Paris and Nick Blevins â€” having more than 10 caps apiece.
Canada coach Mark Anscombe, who was not able to draw on all his overseas pros for the tournament, gives first caps to lock forward Conor Keys, fly half Robbie Povey and fullback Carl Pocock.
“We’ve got a young team and it’s about getting them up to speed with playing a team with the quality of Argentina,” Anscombe said in a statement. “The boys have worked hard and they’re looking forward to it.
“Argentina likes to play an open game but they know how to win the ball up front first. They’re physical and are big men who use their set pieces. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Uncapped Cole Keith, Reegan O’Gorman, Matt Beukeboom and George Barton are on the bench, along with veterans Phil Mack and Djustice Sears-Duru.
Canada finished third in last year’s tournament, giving 19 players their first test cap in the process.
“We can take heart from our third-place finish last year,” Anscombe said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves and our depth and development as a team because this is all about building up to June for our World Cup qualifier so this is a good stepping stone for that.”
Rob Brouwer, Eric Howard. Matt Tierney, Conor Keys, Liam Chisholm, Admir Cejvanovic, Lucas Rumball, Clay Panga, Gordon McRorie (capt,), Robbie Povey, Taylor Paris, Nick Blevins, Brock Staller, Dan Moor, Carl Pocock.
Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru, Cole Keith, Reegan O’Gorman, Matt Beukeboom, Phil Mack, Guiseppe du Toit, George Barton.
The Canadian Press