Fresh on the heels of their retention of the Colonial Cup in 2015 the Canada Wolverines are ready to take on the might of Fiji Bati in the 2016 Ohana Cup curtain raiser. The Wolverines pummeled Jamaica 38-2 earlier this year in the The America's Championship to prove they are more than capable of upsetting the the higher ranked Pacific Islanders.
The men from the North are planning a tough, physical and confrontational game to try and rattle the highly skilled Fiji Bati. It will be a game of contrasting styles with the Fijians renowned for their willingness to throw the ball around and the Canadians keen to rumble it up the middle. Plenty of physicality will be the order of the day!
It is a true clash of game plans and is a classic Northern vs Southern Hemisphere which promises some outstanding Rugby League...
2016 Western Union Ohana Cup Team Information: Canada Wolverines
1) Star Player - Matt Wyles From Toronto, Ontario. Position - Five Eighth Canada Wolverines
Matt Wyles is Canada's most capped player having played in all 22 Internationals from 2010 to end of 2015. He leads the team with his tenacious play and has a bag full of skill-sets which was exemplified by his magical tunnel-ball pass that lead to an important try in Game One of the Colonial Cup last year. Matt is an experienced campaigner that can turn the game at a blink of the eye. He is tough character who will not allow anyone to get past him with his tackling technique.
2) Coach - Aaron Zimmerle born in British Columbia, Canada. - Representative Coach of Queensland Residents in Australia.
We spoke to Aaron Zimmerle about his role as a Coach and thoughts on Coaching the Canada Wolverines & the future of Canada Rugby League.
"Coaching Canada for me is where my culture and heritage collide. Being born in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada and moving to Australia at 9 wasn’t without a degree of culture shock, but rugby league was my Dad's game and it quickly became my obsession. From playing the game, to watching and studying it and now coaching at an elite level, I feel the game of Rugby League highlights the most admirable of traits within a person. To play the game requires courage, teamwork, and dedication."
"The opportunity to work with everyone involved in Canada Rugby League is a privilege and I thank the CRLA for this invitation."
"Success in Rugby League requires people who are courageous and dedicated both as players and administrators, to take the game to the next level and Canada is very well equipped there. From my experience with the CRLA, they work hard on the continual development of young players, the domestic game and establishment of a regular international calendar. This will continue to challenge the players to consistently perform at a higher level. This consistency will be the key to all elite performances of Canada in the future."
3) Team Accomplishments and/or Rugby League Championships
Canada has held the Colonial Cup for two straight years! This is a two game series played annually between Canada & USA. In 2015 Canada had to play both games down in the USA and came away with two strong wins! 2016 started well with a big 38-2 victory over Jamaica in a New Tournament called "The America's Championship". Canada plays the USA on September 24th in Toronto, with the winner to take home the new trophy for the first time! Playing Fiji Bati is a huge challenge for the Wolverines, who are currently RLIF Ranked 14th compared to Fiji who are RLIF Ranked 7th. This is the highest ranked Nation that the Canada Wolverines have ever played in their short history since 2010. Everyone in Canada is excited with this opportunity to play Fiji and thrilled to be involved in this fantastic event!
4) Other Team Information
This is the first time Canada has been invited to this event and CRLA President Paul O'Keefe has been very impressed with how the event has been organized & promoted. He says, "Working with Kelly McGill and his team at Grand Pacific Events has been a fantastic experience! The promotion & marketing is the best the CRLA have ever worked with and his professionalism when making tough decisions has been quick & decisive! We hope this is the first of many games that the Canada Wolverines play in Hawaii. Our Squad has been stretched with having to play two Internationals on the same day but every player in our squad is ready to represent their Nation proudly! We have the expectation of winning this game, make no mistake about that, but we are also here for the experience we can gain from playing such a talented Nation like Fiji. Canada has great athletes who are physically ready to compete on the World stage so we can't wait to see how we compete with such a great team like Fiji. This is going to be a huge game!"
ABOUT THE WOLVERINES
The Canada rugby league team first participated in international competition in 1987. Canada participated in the World Sevens (1995, 1996) and Emerging Nations World Cup (2000) competitions, and competed in regular international matches until 2000, when the Canadian Rugby League Federation folded. As a result, the national team, which was nicknamed the "Cougars", was disbanded and the sport remained dormant for 10 years.
In 2010, a new governing body, known as Canada Rugby League, was formed with the aim of redeveloping the sport amongst the resurgent international rugby league scene. The national team was re-established and briefly nicknamed the 'Mounties', Jamie Lester, the Acting President of Canada Rugby League said, "Like the Kiwis, Kangaroos and Kumuls being identifiable with the New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea rugby league teams, the Mounties nickname has been chosen to create the same effect for the Canadian team". Rugby League Review, one of the leading rugby league magazines in the world, became the main shirt sponsor of the team.
The Mounties competed at the American National Rugby League's 2010 War at the Shore tournament. There, Canada played New England Immortals, a New England representative team, and the New York Knights AMNRL club team, losing both games. The team's nickname was changed to 'Wolverines' before the return of international rugby league to Canada in September 2010 with the inaugural Colonial Cup. Later that year the Wolverines competed in the Rugby League Atlantic Cup in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Canadian Wolverines played the Jamaican national team on Sunday 31 July 2011 defeating the Jamaicans to secure Canada's first international victory of the revival era. They collected their second win in September, upsetting the USA in the second game of the Colonial Cup. However, due to an earlier loss to the Tomahawks and the resulting aggregate scores, the Wolverines were unable to capture the cup. Canada's international season finished up with a defeat against South Africa, who were in the Northern Hemisphere for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers.
In 2014, the Wolverines named former Super League player, Stuart Donlan, as their new head coach. Stuart's first game was the 2014 Colonial Cup's only fixture. He coached Canada to a famous victory which made them the Colonial Cup champions for the very first time.
Despite Donlan's success, Aaron Zimmerle, the head coach of the Queensland Cup team Tweed Heads Seagulls, took over the main coaching role at the Wolverines helm in 2015 to coach Canada in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup qualifying campaign.