Canada makes 1 tweak for clash with All Blacks
Though weary and nursing injuries, Canada has stuck to its policy of fielding its strongest available lineup for every match at the Rugby World Cup by naming a full-strength side for its Pool A match against top-ranked New Zealand.
Five players named by coach Kieran Crowley on Friday have been unable to train in the five days since Canada's disappointing 23-23 draw with Japan and will have their fitness tested before being confirmed in the match-day squad.
Pat Riordan has two memories of his last match against the All Blacks: Canada's intercept try and a fervent prayer for a power cut at halftime to stop the scoreboard at 26-13.
Unfortunately, the floodlights stayed on and the All Blacks went on to win the 2007 match at Hamilton, New Zealand, by 64-13.
Now captain, Riordan leads Canada against New Zealand in its final Pool A match at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET) and he can still draw on the memory of that match four years ago for enlightenment and encouragement.
More than anything, it revealed to the Canada hooker that the challenge of playing the All Blacks is as much mental as physical.
—The Associated Press
Only one player, fullback James Pritchard, was unavailable because of injury and his absence prompts one change of personnel and one positional change.
Matt Evans moves from wing to fullback and Conor Trainor joins the team on the right wing.
Trainor started from the bench against Japan and his promotion forces one change to the Canada reserves.
Crowley has gone for five forwards and two backs, preferring flanker Nanyak Dala ahead of Wellington-born backrower Jeremy Kyne.
"Coming to this World Cup, we decided to look at every game on its own," Crowley said. "It is a World Cup after all.
"So we took the attitude that we were going to field our best team in every game. If I was completely honest with you, five of them didn't train today.
"I think it's a fact that we had a four-day backup after each of the first two games and it took probably five or six days for them to come down mentally. We've got a five-day turnaround for this particular one and those guys who didn't train today have to be able to get through tomorrow to play on Sunday.
"We've got confidence they all will."
Crowley said Canada had made steady improvement throughout the tournament.
He was happy with its win over Tonga and with its performance against France, though it conceded points heavily at the end of each half.
The draw against Japan was disappointing — it was a match Canada had expected to win — but Crowley felt his team had generally acquitted itself well.
"As far as how we've gone, I'm reasonably pleased," he said. "But I would rather be sitting here having had three wins because that's how we approach it."