TORONTO – Lamport Stadium has become a paradise for both rugby league and union in Toronto late, hosting both Wolfpack and Arrows.
On Saturday, Lamport will host another form of rugby league in the first America Nines Tournament with Canada, taking on the United States, Jamaica and an "Emerging Nations" page called Latin Heat.
Nines is to rugby league which sevens is to rugby union. It is played with nine players on each side within two nine minutes half.
For Canada Wolverine's coach Ben Fleming, it is a rare chance to get his players together – at least some of them – together.
"It is always challenging to come together with players at best," said Fleming, who took talent from Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand to World Cup qualifiers in November last year.
"When tournaments come together and games come together, it's great to get the team back together. They are always rejuvenated when they come together again."
Canada's Captain Eddie Bilborough is one of five recurring players from the Wolverines team who missed the World Cup qualification. The others are Emil Borggren, Scyler Dumas, Michael Mastroianni and Jason Park.
Lack of funds has prevented Fleming from bringing players abroad.
Like seventh, fewer players mean more space with teams who want to get the ball to speedsters.
"It will be full of fitters and faster individuals," Fleming said.
The hope is that the tournament will show continental talent and open more doors to the sport.
Jamaica defeated Canada 38-8 and US 16-10 in US Rugby League World Cup qualifiers – with the 13-man version of the game – last November in Jacksonville.
"America is probably the team to beat," said Fleming, who himself played for Wolverines. "They have a couple of players who have played at a high level abroad."
Jamaica will also have some speedsters.
But he also likes what he sees in his side.
"We just have to play the right footie. We've been trying to prepare as much as possible with the obstacles we have in front of us. The team looks pretty sharp."
The tournament is a round-robin format in which the two top players play for the title.
David Astley, Scyler Dumas, Jason Park, Ray Bissonette, Steve Piatek, Michael Mastroianni, Danny Tupou Kaloudonu, Nick Hails, Emil Borggren, Mikkel Borggren, Steven Adu, Ethan Langs, Andrew Porter, Eddie Bilborough, Andrew Giguere, Charles Curran, Tony Felix.
Kyle Yurkiw, Jonah Bachtiar.
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