Canada's rugby 7s roster announced for final Rio qualifier
Tournament in Monaco last chance for team
Canadian rugby sevens coach Liam Middleton has added veteran Ciaran Hearn to his 12-man squad for this weekend's Olympic repechage tournament in Monaco.
The 16-country event at Stade Louis II represents the Canadian men's last chance to join Canada's women in Rio as rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut.
Hearn is no stranger to the sevens game but has been playing 15s of late with London Irish. The 30-year-old back from Conception Bay, N.L. joined the English team after last fall's World Cup and earned a contract extension in February.
His last sevens tournament for Canada was in Glasgow in May 2015.
"Ciaran is an experienced sevens player and I enjoyed working with him before he joined London Irish," Middleton said in a statement Monday. "He brings pace and physicality with an excellent kicking option."
Middleton has chosen a largely veteran squad led by captain John Moonlight, Harry Jones, Nathan Hirayama and Phil Mack.
There is power in Adam Zaruba, Conor Trainor, Admir Cejvanovic and Moonlight as well as the guile and creativity of Hirayama and Mack. Jones and Justin Douglas are two of the speed options.
Hearn has been training with the sevens squad for some weeks now while Trainor and Hirayama are back after nursing hand injuries.
The following players round out Canada's roster:
- Phil Berna - (UBC Thunderbirds), Vancouver, B.C.
- Admir Cejvanovic - (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, B.C.
- Justin Douglas - (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, B.C.
- Mike Fuailefau - (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, B.C.
- Lucas Hammond - (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, Ont.
- Nathan Hirayama - (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, B.C.
- Ciaran Hearn - (London Irish) Conception Bay, N.L.
- Harry Jones - (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) West Vancouver, B.C.
- Phil Mack - (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, B.C.
- John Moonlight - Captain (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, Ont.
- Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, B.C.
- Adam Zaruba - (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, B.C.
Top-seeded Samoa, which finished ninth in the overall World Series standings and won the Cup in Paris, is considered the favourite in Monaco. The Pacific Islanders were 4-2 against Canada this season although the Canadians won 24-19 in London the last time they met. Russia also competed on the World Series, finishing 14th.
Canada has been drawn in a group with Germany, Sri Lanka and Uruguay in Monaco.
The other teams in the repechage are Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe.
Middleton divides the tournament into three sections with World Series teams Canada, Russia and Samoa as the favourite. He considers the middle group with the likes of Hong Kong, Germany and Zimbabwe "good enough to beat anybody in the tournament, us included."
"They have that capability. But whether they can win six straight games is the question."
The other group may be competitive but will likely not be playing the matches that count the final day.
The winner will join host Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Britain, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States in Rio.