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So what have Canada been up to since meeting Ireland in the Rugby World Cup?

Mark Anscombe’s squad are missing some big names, but their form has been impressive.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

CANADA ARE IN town this week, giving us a little change of pace from the high octane, All Action, All Star, All Black build-up (for a few days at least).

You remember Canada, right? That exciting side who sparkled out wide and packed a punch up front, but ultimately suffered four defeats in Ireland’s pool at the World Cup last year?

Well, we’ll get the bad news out of the way first: fans of beautiful surnames will not get a chance to watch John Moonlight at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

The openside was one of the stars of the Canucks’ World Cup last year, but is far from the team’s Johnstown House base this week as has switched his focus to the Sevens scene. Also missing out of the squad for a three-Test tour of Europe are Jamie Cudmore (Pau), Tyler Ardron, Jeff Hassler (both Ospreys) and the Mackenzie brothers Phil and Jamie.

Source: Americas Rugby News/YouTube

However, new head coach Mark Anscombe – formerly of Ulster – does still have star wing DTH van der Merwe, Taylor Paris of Agen and props Djustice Sears-Duru from Glasgow, Matt Tierney of Pau and Jake Ilnicki who recently moved to Joe Schmidt’s old club Manawatu.

Anscombe took charge in March and guided his new charges to three impressive results over the summer: a four-point loss to Japan and a two-point defeat to Italy sandwiching a 46 – 21 win over Russia.

Though Italy needed a late penalty to take their win in Toronto, the Japan result was the one where they really went close to a big upset.

Yoshiya Hosoda was red carded for a horrible shoulder barge on a head exposed from a ruck. Being shorn of a man didn’t stop Japan from playing attacking rugby, but it did give Canada a vital boost in the maul.

After scoring two first-half tries from close range against 15 men, they were just held up over the line with time up after 80 minutes and the Brave Blossoms survived the late onslaught.

Mark Anscombe Source: Darren Kidd/Presseye.com

Without Cudmore though, they will lose some quality handling at close quarters that helps them get around corners off pick and drives. Plus, a defensive maul which leaked tries to Italy and Japan will surely have a big target drawn in Simon Easterby’s hand this week.

After scoring 50 points and seven tries when the teams met in the World Cup, an Ireland team fresh from putting 40 on the All Blacks must be confident of another half century. Although, unlike that encounter in Cardiff, there will be changes, new partnerships and debutants which will make that sort of fluid attack a little more difficult to generate this time around.

Still, Anscombe will feel he has an axe to grind in Ireland, and as the only Tier 1 nation on Canada’s tour schedule this month, they won’t be holding back.

Canada squad for November Tests v Ireland, Romania and Samoa

Kyle Baillie – (Westshore RFC/Atlantic Rock)
Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues)
Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates)
Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears)
Rob Brouwer – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues)
Aaron Carpenter – (London Welsh/Ontario Blues)
Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears)
Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates)
Ciaran Hearn – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock)
Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock)
Eric Howard – (Brantford Harlequins/Ontario Blues)
Jake Ilnicki – (Manawatu Turbos/BC Bears)
Conor Keys – (UVIC Vikes/Atlantic Rock)
Ryan Kotlewski – (Westshore RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Ben Lesage – (UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears)
Gordon McRorie – (UBC Old Boys Ravens/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Clay Panga – (Westshore RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Patrick Parfrey – (James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock)
Taylor Paris – (Agen)
Lucas Rumball – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues)
Djustice Sears -Duru – (Glasgow Warriors/Ontario Blues)
Brock Staller – (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears)
Matt Tierney – (Section Paloise/Ontario Blues)
Conor Trainor – (RC Vannes/BC Bears)
DTH van Der Merwe – (Scarlets)

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Sean Farrell

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