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EDMONTON, Alberta - The U.S. match-day squad for Tuesday's World Rugby U20 Trophy Qualifier between the AIG Men's Junior All-Americans and host Canada has been selected.
Head Coach JD Stephenson's under-20s will open the two-match series against the border rival at Ellerslie Rugby Park June 13 at 9 p.m. ET. U20 Trophy veteran Malon Al-Jiboori will captain the side, with Rugby Canada's live stream of the match available to viewers in the United States via its Facebook page.
Stationed north of the border for nearly a week, the MJAAs have settled into their work week after several Identification and Development Camps earlier in the year.
"It's been a good experience for the coaches and players to work through the process and structure that was laid during our Identification and Development Camps," Stephenson said. "We are fortunate to have a great squad of players with a good attitude and approach to learning that has helped the adaptation of our approach to this match."
Now capped on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with the Men's Eagles Sevens, Al-Jiboori will lead the team from the back row alongside Nafi Maafu and University of Colorado No. 8 Brian Nault, while 2016 U20 Trophy selection Deven Marshall and Daemon Torres will connect the loose forwards with the front-row trio of Jack Iscaro, Jake Jorstad, and Chance Wenglewski.
Experienced All-American scrum half Ruben de Haas and 17-year-old Samuel Walsh will get things started for the attack in the half-back positions. Capped Eagle center Lorenzo Thomas forms a powerful midfield duo with Saint Mary's College's Aaron Matthews, with an all-D1A Rugby back-five rounded out by wings from Life University - Harley Wheeler - and St. Bonaventure University - Jaret Williamson - and Lindenwood University full back Cristian Rodriguez.
The week-long build-up to Tuesday has seen the squad train hard but smart, being "pragmatic" in the way it has approached contact in preparation for a physical North American opponent.
"We are looking for a match-day roster that will further highlight strengths of the side," Stephenson said. "The professionalism of the players on and off the pitch, the adaptation of different skills, pressured scenarios, and tactical systems in which players have shone has been a welcome surprise."
Tuesday's match is the first in a two-game series against Canada. The aggregate winner, determined by a combined score line, will represent North America at the U20 Trophy in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the end of the summer. Admission to Tuesday's game at Ellerslie Rugby Park is free of charge.
AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | v. Canada
1. Chance Wenglewski
2. Jack Iscaro
3. Jake Jorstad
4. Daemon Torres
5. Deven Marshall
6. Malon Al-Jiboori (C)
7. Nafi Maafu
8. Brian Nault
9. Ruben De Haas
10. Samuel Walsh
11. Harley Wheeler
12. Aaron Matthews
13. Lorenzo Thomas
14. Jaret Williamson
15. Cristian Rodriguez