Kieran Crowley has made some big changes to his team that will do duty against Georgia in a test match on Saturday.
Kieran Crowley has made some big changes to his team that will do duty against the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in a test match on Saturday.
Crowley has opted to tinker with the squad that defeated Spain last weekend in Madrid 60-22.
The Canadian mentor says the game against the Georgians was always going to be the toughest of the four match European tour that sees Canada undefeated with victories over Belgium and Spain and a match remaining against Portugal in Lisbon next weekend.
“Georgia will have their best players – and they will be focusing on development heading into the World Cup year,” said Crowley.
“You look at the schedule – they are the highest ranked team just behind us (Canada is 14th – Georgia 17th) – we knew coming in the latter two games would be the harder ones.”
Taking on the physical Georgians Crowley has selected some size in the forwards – giving Glasgow Warriors prop Kevin Tkachuk his first start for Canada in 2010 and 54th Cap – 9th in the all time Canada list. He will settle into the front row with hooker Pat Riordan and Jason Marshall at tight-head prop.
In the second row Josh Jackson and Jebb Sinclair form a partnership that will offer some size in terms of the line out with Jackson, and mobility with Sinclair, who is normally a flanker.
The back row remains unchanged for a second straight week with the flanks covered by Chauncey O'Toole and Adam Kleeberger with Aaron Carpenter retaining the number eight jersey for his 34th Test appearance.
Sean White continues his starting role at scrum-half, his quick jinky running style allowing for efficient distribution to his half-back partner – first year man Connor Braid – who gets his first test start, playing at fly-half.
The power pairing of Esher's Phil Mackenzie and Glasgow Warrior wing DTH van der Merwe in the centres makes for a compelling combination for the second straight week.
It is the back three that could give Georgian coach Richie Dixon fits, with the pace and guile of James Pritchard on one wing (normally he is a fly-half or full-back) with Justin Mensah Coker on the other wing and Ciaran Hearn at full-back.
Pritchard, who captains his Bedford side in the English Championship says it will be a stern test for this well performing Canada side.
“Coming to Georgia – we are on their home soil – it is not going to be as easy as some of our earlier games,” he said.
“If we can play to our strengths it will make for a good day.”
On the replacements bench the choices are weighted to a battle in the forwards with five of the seven spots going to re-enforce the scrum. Tom Dolezel and Andrew Tiedemann will cover the front row, with Jon Phelan and Tyler Hotson coming into the second row and Sean Michael Stephen covering the back row.
Jamie Mackenzie could get on the field with his brother (Phil) for a second straight week as a back up to Sean White. Nick Blevins of the Wolf Pack would juggle into a centre spot – with either Mackenzie of van Der Merwe able to move to a back three spot.
Canada: 1 Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow Warriors) 2 Pat Riordan (BC Bears) 3 Jason Marshall (BC Bears) 4 Josh Jackson (Stade Montois) 5 Jebb Sinclair (The Rock) 6 Chauncey O'Toole (The Rock) 7 Adam Kleeberger (Unattached) 8 Aaron Carpenter (Plymouth Albion) 9 Sean White (BC Bears) 10 Connor Braid (BC Bears) 11 James Pritchard (Bedford Blues) 12 Phillip Mackenzie (Esher RFC) 13 DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 14 Justin Mensah-Coker (Unattached) 15 Ciaran Hearn(The Rock)
Replacements:16 Tom Dolezel (Prairie Wolf Pack) 17 Andrew Tiedemann (Prairie Wolf Pack) 18 Jon Phelan (The Rock) 19 Tyler Hotson (Plymouth Albion) 20 Sean Michael Stephen (Plymouth Albion) 21 Jamie Mackenzie (Ontario Blues) 22 Nick Blevins (Prairie Wolf Pack)