Tue 28 May
The USA has named an 18-man squad for this weekend’s ‘friendly’ against Samoa in Hawaii.
The American National Rugby League President’s XIII is dominated by the Aloha State with eight players from the AMNRL’S Pacific conference included on the roster.
Another eight players are from conferences on the US mainland, with one from American Samoa and another from the UK.
“Obviously we will be up against a formidable opponent,” said President’s XIII coach Marcus Vassilakopoulos.
“The Samoans will be big, strong and fast and our boys will have to aim up if we are to compete with them.
“No doubt we will be the underdog, but we won't be able to grow as a national squad if we don't play quality opposition.
“We welcome back Apple Pope as captain after injury last year. I'm also looking forward to seeing Loto Tagaloa go around again, as well as Les Solia from Utah.”
Saturday’s game is the first opportunity for players to try out for possible inclusion in the USA’s national team for Rugby League World Cup 2013.
Vassilakopoulos fills the role of domestic-based coach. Over the course of this week’s ‘friendly’ and then three Tests against archrivals Canada, his job will be to identify players who could potentially make the USA’s squad for RLWC2013 and report back to head coach Matt Elliott and national coaching director Lee Addison.
“Each game will feature different players who have been identified by myself and the other coaches,” added Vassilakopoulos.
Saturday’s ‘friendly’ against Samoa also marks the start of the USA’s build-up to RLWC2013 with that three-game set against Canada to follow later in the summer and then a one-off match against France in October.
“There are a lot of players who didn’t make this squad who will play against Canada in one of the three internationals we play against them which will be Test matches,” continued Vassilakopoulos.
“The games against Canada will be very tough as usual. The Canadians are getting better every year and we will really have to play well against them if we are to retain the Colonial Cup.
“Their coach [Jamie Lester] will have them fired up and ready to go in the three Tests this year spread out over July, August and September.”
AMNRL PRESIDENT’S XIII SQUAD: Fitzjames Adams (New York Knights), Brian Confer (Pennsylvania Bulls), Curtis Cunz (Connecticut Wildcats), Mike Garvey (Pennsylvania Bulls), Kelly McGill (AMNRL Hawaii), Keke Misipeka (AMNRL Samoa), Vai Notoa (AMNRL Hawaii), Apple Pope (AMNRL South) [Capt], Craig Priestly (Southampton Dragons), Jayson Rego (AMNRL Hawaii), Les Solia (AMNRL West), Anthony Sunia (AMNRL Hawaii), Loto Tagaloa ( AMNRL Hawaii), Keone Tawata (AMNRL Hawaii), Saunoa Tupea (AMNRL Hawaii), Mosese Uitalia (AMNRL Hawaii), Dusten Umeda (Connecticut Wildcats), Matt Walsh (Connecticut Wildcats)