Canada head coach Kieran Crowley has named starting team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup opener against Ireland at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
In his fourth Rugby World Cup, Jamie Cudmore will captain Canada for his first time at a RWC. Tyler Ardron, along with West Vancouver’s Harry Jones, is unavailable for selection due to injury.
Veteran Hubert Buydens starts at loosehead prop with Doug Wooldridge at tighthead. Ray Barkwill gets the nod at hooker.
Cudmore will partner Brett Beukeboom at lock while Kyle Gilmour and John Moonlight line up at flanker. Canada’s second most capped player of all-time, Aaron Carpenter, starts at number eight.
Carpenter and Buydens are two of three players who have played in all seven of Canada’s test matches this year. The other, Djustice Sears-Duru, is named to the bench.
Gordon McRorie will partner Nathan Hirayama to form Canada’s half-backs. Nick Blevins, who along with Carpenter leads Canada with three tries in 2015, is joined by Ciaran Hearn in the centers.
Local Welsh professionals DTH van der Merwe and Jeff Hassler, of the Scarlets and Ospreys respectively, will play on the wings with Matt Evans at full-back. Hearn will move closer to the half-century mark when he earns his 46th cap on Saturday.
Eight members of Canada’s starting XV will be making their World Cup debuts Saturday — Barkwill, Wooldridge, Beukeboom, Gilmour, Moonlight, McRorie, Blevins and Hassler.
By starting Saturday, van der Merwe and Carpenter will play in their third World Cup. Both suited up for all eight matches at the 2007 and 2011 editions of the tournament.
Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 DTH Van der Merwe, 10 Nathan Hirayama, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 John Moonlight, 6 Kyle Gilmour, 5 Jamie Cudmore (c), 4 Brett Beukeboom, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens
Replacements: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Liam Underwood, Conor Trainor
Date: Saturday, September 19
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14:30 local
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)