Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Monteith wary of vengeful USA Hawks

Published:Tuesday | June 18, 2019 | 12:27 AM
The Reggae Warriors’ Leon Thomas (left) and Jermaine Pinnock (second left) attempt to prevent the USA Hawks from scoring a try during a recent rugby league game in Florida.
The Reggae Warriors’ Leon Thomas (left) and Jermaine Pinnock (second left) attempt to prevent the USA Hawks from scoring a try during a recent rugby league game in Florida.

Fans of the Jamaica national rugby league team, known as the Reggae Warriors, will no doubt be treated to an enviable event as the Warriors play host to an anticipated grudge match against their fancied rivals, the USA Hawks, this Saturday at the Mona Bowl at The University of the West Indies. The fixture will be particularly interesting as the Hawks will seek to avenge the last defeat they suffered at the hands of the Warriors.

The teams last met in the final of the 2018 Americas Rugby League Championship in Jacksonville, Florida, back in November, where the Reggae Warriors claimed their first hold on the crown after defeating the United States 16-10. This result meant that for the first time in history, Jamaica will make an appearance at the Rugby League World Cup. This debut will be in 2021.

Romeo Monteith, head coach of the Reggae Warriors, explained that this achievement meant a lot for the sport.

A sentiment that Monteith echoed was the manner in which the team qualified. He felt that the feat was even more special for the team as it also signified the first time that the team had ever beaten the USA Hawks. With the team having been founded back in 2009, the Warriors faced the Hawks a total of six times before that fateful match and suffered six consecutive defeats. The win, Monteith feels, was well overdue.

‘A DREAM COME TRUE’

“Beating USA to qualify was really a dream come true for us, especially having lost six consecutive times before,” Monteith explained. “They’ve knocked us out on our previous two attempts, so yes, we feel a real sense of accomplishment in getting one over the region’s top team.”

The teams will redraw rival lines in Kingston, and it will be the second time that the Warriors will play at their home ground, having beaten Canada at the Mona Bowl in 2017. Monteith hopes that history will repeat itself as they play host to another North American opponent.

The Hawks, however, will be gunning for the victory to fix their wounded pride after having lost at home.

“There is no doubt in my mind about the mindset of the USA team come Saturday,” he said. “They will come with the intent to win. This will be a grudge match. The USA management have publicly stated that their intention is to exact some level of revenge for the loss in the World Cup qualifiers.”

He, however, remains cautious as the team will field an entirely local-based squad that is preparing for a hard-fought uphill match. He explained that this is being done as a means of preparation, seeing as they have already qualified for the World Cup. For now, he said, the team’s main priority will be to expose players to the highest level of competition available through a series of experimentation, along with trial and error.

– Gregory Bryce