USA Hawks and Jamaica have named their 19-man squads for the opening match in the Firehouse Subs World Cup Qualifiers – Americas, which kicks off tomorrow (4th December) at the Hodges Stadium, University of North Florida, in Jacksonville.
The hosts, who are aiming to achieve a second successive qualification – having made it to the quarter finals of the last Rugby League World Cup in 2103 – have enlisted Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott in their quest.
McDermott, who was named ‘Coach of the Year’ at the 2015 UK Coaching Awards earlier this week, has been happy with his early sessions with the squad.
“I’ve been working with them for the last 72 hours,” he said. “It’s been really exciting to see a group of very enthusiastic hard-working young men. The one thing that stands out immediately is how committed they all are and how much they’re willing to work for each other.”
“Everyone understands the size of the task in hand but we are also aware of the rewards should we be successful in the next two games, this is still a relatively new era for USA Rugby League and everyone wants to seize the opportunity as best they can.”
McDermott added, “We look forward to a really challenging game against a very competitive Jamaica and then we will start our prep for the match against Canada, where the players are really keen to reverse their recent defeat in the Colonial Cup.”
Reggae Warriors coach and JRLA director of rugby, Romeo Monteith, believes his men can cause a shock.
“Since arriving on Monday preparation has gone fairly well,” he noted. “We have a mixture of UK-based and Jamaican resident players who are going through the getting-to-know-you process and we’re trying to keep everyone positive and focused on the game.
“Given the short preparation time available, the main focus has been getting straight into the systems we want to use; we don’t have much time to waste and so everyone has to be on board with what we’re going to try to achieve and we’re focusing on team play. We know the skill is there, we know the explosiveness is there, we know what the players can do but we need to be able to play as a team.”
Monteith acknowledged: “I expect a tough game from the USA. They have our measure: we have never beaten them before. They will be confident and have good forwards and backs. I’m expecting it to be a real fight and hopefully we’ll be in it at the end.”
The match can be live-streamed [ 7pm EST / midnight GMT USA v Jamaica] at: