RLWC 2017 Preview: USA looking to replicate 2013 success

Renegade Roar Guru

By Renegade, Renegade is a Roar Guru

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    The United States certainly had a dream debut in Rugby League’s most prestigious event four years ago.

    The Tomahawks shocked the world by progressing through to the quarterfinal stage. The Americans will be hoping to go one better in 2017 in preparation for the 2025 world cup on home soil where they aim to be joining the big three as one of the heavyweights.

    USA Tomahawks
    RLIF World Ranking: 10
    Best Result: Quarter Finalists (2013)
    2013 Finish: Quarter Finals
    2017 RLWC Odds: $1001

    USA have a deeper history in rugby league than most know. They began their venture into the sport in the 1950s when an American touring side played Australia in front of a crowd of 65,000 at the SCG.

    Attempts at rugby league did not start again until the late 1980s and since then the Tomahawks were anointed the representative side for the nation.

    The Tomahawks have played in front of crowds in excess of 30,000 in games against Russia in Moscow to as recent as packed smaller scale venues against Canada.

    Their debut at the RLWC was a successful one and something no one in the rugby league world would have predicted.

    It ended in devastating fashion when the Kangaroos bought the side back down to earth in a 62-0 thumping in the quarterfinal.

    The tournament was deemed as a success for the side though and enough to show that the US had arrived in rugby league.

    Since the last world cup, the US has seen their split domestic competitions become one. The USARL are now the sole governing body that oversee a competition of twelve teams across two conferences.

    This has seen all domestic players now eligible for the national team which is something that was not possible at the last world cup.

    The Tomahawks compete at international level regularly in the Atlantic Cup and also hold annual test series against the Canadian Wolverines that is starting to become a very healthy rivalry.

    The US have also managed to secure the services of one of the best coaches in the game by picking up Leeds Rhinos maestro, Brian McDermott. Big Mac will be aiming to replicate the success he has achieved at club level with the squad below.

    Team Line Up
    1. Corey Makalim
    2. Ryan Burroughs
    3. Junior Vaivai
    4. Jonathan Alley
    5. Bureta Faraimo
    6. Kristian Freed
    7. Matthew Walsh
    8. Eddy Pettybourne
    9. David Marando
    10. Mark Offerdahl (c)
    11. Danny Howard
    12. Matt Shipway
    13. Nicholas Newlin

    14. Sam Tochterman-Talbott
    15. Andrew Kneisly
    16. Steve Howard
    17. Gabriel Farley

    Squad Members: Charles Joseph-Cortalano, Joe Eichner, David Ulch, Joshua Rice, Martwain Johnston, Taylor Alley

    Nine members of the 2013 RLWC squad get to take part in another world cup campaign. Of the 23 selected, 11 players are from the USARL domestic competition with a further two players selected from the Toronto Wolfpack, which is a sign of McDermott showing faith in the local talent.

    Key Player
    Junior Vaivai has suffered a stack of setbacks during what looked set to be a promising career.

    After being named in the NYC team of the year in 2009 alongside players such as Kieran Foran, Gareth Widdop and Daly Chery-Evans – Vaivai was supposed to be one of the next big things.

    Three ACL injuries later, he still hasn’t delivered the promised NRL career that league minds such as Phil Gould expected him to.

    Junior has one more chance at getting back into the setup he was destined to be a part of as a teenager, if he can produce the goods while the rugby league world watches on during this tournament.

    Fixtures and Opponents
    Versus Fiji at Townsville Stadium, Townsville – Sat 28th Oct 8:40pm AEDT
    Versus Italy at Townsville Stadium, Townsville – Sun 5th Nov 5pm AEDT
    Versus PNG at OSNF Stadium, Port Moresby – Sun 12th Nov 4pm AEDT

    Key Match
    The match against Fiji, semi-finalists of the last two world cups, is going to be a defining game for the USA this tournament.

    A win against the Bati will give the Tomahawks a major advantage in Pool D where only the top placed team will progress through to the knock out stage.

    Each game will be important but the highest ranked side the Americans face will be Fiji in their opening game, and to top the pool it is a challenge they need to overcome.

    RLWC 2017 Prospects
    A win in their opening game will give the USA the start they need in pool D however they’ve drawn the short straw when it comes to the intergroup matches by facing PNG in Port Moresby.

    They will have to win at least two matches to be a shot at making it through to the pool stage however that will be very tough to accomplish.

    No one gave the Tomahawks much hope four years ago either so nothing is impossible, but the question is can they do it again?

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • October 27th 2017 @ 4:57pm
      Benji said | October 27th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

      The 30,00 they drew in Moscow was a result of putting it on in the poorest parts of Moscow and entry to the game meant you went into the draw for a car. Where is RL in Russia now? Danny Howard is over 30 and playing reserve grade for Wentworthville so the locals aren’t really stars..

      • October 27th 2017 @ 6:35pm
        Cathar Treize said | October 27th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

        Russian rugby league plugs along, competes in the RLWC qualifiers each year home & away. Is that a crime in your part of the world?

      • Roar Guru

        October 27th 2017 @ 7:39pm
        Renegade said | October 27th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

        Cool story Benji, I’m keen to know how you find the time to attend all these rugby league matches, all over the world, and get the best deals every time.

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2017 @ 5:45pm
      Sleiman Azizi said | October 27th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

      Rugby league has suffered in Russia Benji due to the pull out of funding and other such nuisances.

      Thanks for the snipe.

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2017 @ 6:31pm
      Riley Pettigrew said | October 27th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

      With all due respect to the Hawks I can’t see this side doing much. I’m excited to see how the likes of Burroughs, Eichner and some of the USARL players go and whether Faraimo can continue his form. I doubt they’ll be as successful as in 2013 unfortunately.

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2017 @ 7:40pm
      Renegade said | October 27th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

      Tend to agree Riley, but no one expected them to win a game in 2013 either… fortunately for them, sport is never played on paper!

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