Strong squad named for World Cup qualifiers
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica, USA and South Africa have announced their 30-man squads for October's 2013 Rugby League World Cup Atlantic Qualifiers at Campbell Field, Philadelphia.
Jamaica open their campaign against South Africa on October 19. They play the United States next on October 23. The winners of the play-offs will automatically qualify for the World Cup that will be held in the United Kingdom in 2013.
Jamaica's team will be comprised of players with Super League, Jamaica's Rugby League (JRL) and one player from the US League. The Jamaican squad has been strengthened by the inclusion of Wigan's Karl Pryce, who has spent the season on loan with Harlequins, and young Leeds winger Jamal Chisholm, twice named the British game's 'fastest man' and who adds even more pace to an already pacy squad.
Champions Duhaney Park Red Sharks and Grand Finalists Vauxhall Vultures provide five men each while Lamont Bryan of Harlequins adds experience to the pack.
With less than a month to go before the qualifiers, Jamaica's head coach Dean Thomas is feeling confident about the rugby boys. "I have been able to monitor the continued personal development of the players in their club environment. 2011 has seen a marked improvement in all of them and the squad has a good balance of experience and youth," said Thomas. "Hunslet's Waine Pryce is an ideal calming influence and there is the enthusiasm of the likes of Corey Hanson of Sheffield Eagles who at 18 has had a great breakthrough year. All the players are extremely excited about the prospects of playing in a World Cup."
JRL Development Officer Romeo Monteith believes the squad reflects the right blend of players to see Jamaica qualify for the World Cup.
"We have a very strong squad with professional experience from the United Kingdom, and players from our domestic league that are among our best players," he said. "When the two sets of players are combined we have enough passion, skill and firepower to put us into the 2013 World Cup."
It will not be a cake walk for Jamaica as both South Africa and the United States are also sending strong squads to the qualifiers. South African coach Steven van Zyl is confident that, although being an unknown quantity, his charges can make an impact.
Understand each other
"We have some players playing league internationally, but the squad that we currently have, have been together for a while, so they understand each other," he said. "We had a long chat with them and explained that we're confident in them, now all they have to do is go out and perform on the field. Although we have a relatively inexperienced team in terms of international games, we do have a very good mix of brawn and intelligence. We have played against some strong touring teams and the guys have acquitted themselves brilliantly at all times."
Like Jamaica, the US are also trying to qualify for their first World Cup having fallen short their last time out. This time, the squad is better prepared.
"We have had a good preparation, which started some time ago but really began to take shape when I visited Hawaii to develop team systems and player evaluations with the staff," said head coach Matthew Elliott. "I know the players are keen to do well and I am very excited about the tournament and the challenges we will face."
Jamaica squad: Wayne Allen, Daley Lee Williams (Batley Bulldogs), Ashley Johnson (Coventry Bears), Romaen Campbell, Roy Calvert, Damon Gayle, Ryan Grant, Marvin Thompson (Duhaney Park Red Sharks), Joseph Brown (Gateshead Thunder), Jode Sheriffe, Paul White (Halifax), Lamont Bryan, Omari Caro (Harlequins), Ross Peltier (Huddersfield Giants), Richie Barnett, Waine Pryce (Hunslet Hawks), Jymel Coleman, Jamaine Wray (Keighley Cougars), Danny Bravo, Jamal Chisholm (Leeds Rhinos), Wesley Haughton (New Haven Warriors), Corey Hanson, Reece Williams, Sam Williamson (Sheffield Eagles), Karl Pryce (Wigan Warriors), Carlye Burgher, Jahdeek Clarke, Sandino Hastings, Tyronie Rowe, Claude Yen (Vauxhall Rugby Club).