OITA, Japan (Reuters) – Canada captain Tyler Ardron and lock Evan Olmstead will have some familiar faces to run into when their team face the All Blacks in their World Cup Pool B match in Oita on Saturday.
Number eight Ardron has been a stand-out player for the Waikato chiefs in Super Rugby for the last two seasons, while Olmstead was in the Auckland side that won New Zealand’s provincial championship last year.
Olmstead is one of six changes made by coach Kingsley Jones to the starting side who were beaten 48-7 by Italy in their opener last week in Fukuoka, with loosehead prop Djustice Sears-Duru earning his first World Cup start.
Sears-Duru played in all of Canada’s matches at the 2015 World Cup off the bench and was a replacement against Italy last week but has come in for Hubert Buydens in the number one jersey for the All Blacks clash.
Jones was forced to also shake up his midfield with Nick Blevins (broken jaw) and Ben LeSage (hand) both ruled out of the tournament over the weekend.
Conor Trainor, who scored two tries against the All Blacks in Canada’s 79-15 defeat at the 2011 World Cup, and Ciaran Hearn have been named in their place.
Matt Heaton, who bombed a certain try-scoring opportunity against Italy, will start at openside flanker, while Cole Keith has replaced Matt Tierney at tighthead prop.
Canada created several more chances than the one Heaton wasted against Italy but were unable to capitalise and they have targeted the All Blacks match as one in which they hope to improve while still being put under pressure.
They are, however, under no illusions as to what awaits them.
“Playing against the best team in the world is a great opportunity for us to really challenge ourselves and a big result for us would be if we can improve on our performance from Italy,” scrumhalf Gordon McRorie said on Sunday.
“You’ve just got to acknowledge who you’re playing against and that’s the main thing and then after that, concentrate on yourself, on your own performance, on the team performance.
“We could revere and preview New Zealand all we like but at the end of the day, it’s us that have to go on the field and represent Canada so it’s what we can do in that jersey that counts.”
Team: 15-Patrick Parfrey, 14-Jeff Hassler, 13-Conor Trainor, 12-Ciaran Hearn, 11-DTH Van Der Merwe, 10-Peter Nelson, 9-Gordon McRorie, 8-Tyler Ardron (captain), 7-Matt Heaton, 6-Lucas Rumball, 5-Conor Keys, 4-Evan Olmstead, 3-Cole Keith, 2-Eric Howard, 1-Djustice Sears-Duru
Replacements: 16-Andrew Quattrin, 17-Hubert Buydens, 18-Jake Ilnicki, 19-Michael Sheppard, 20-Josh Larsen, 21-Phil Mack, 22-Taylor Paris, 23-Andrew Coe
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Ken Ferris)