Ruck and Roll: The Joy and Pain in Canadian Squad Selections

5 months ago

High-performing LA Giltinis lock Corey Thomas (above) has described his call up to the Canadian training squad as an “unbelievable opportunity.”

The 6’4” (1.93m) lock was this week named in the extended 40-man roster for the July Tests against Wales in Cardiff (July 3) and England in London (July 10) plus the Rugby World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

Thomas, 26, is the latest Giltini to earn the springboard into potential national honours which was one of the foundation aims of Major League Rugby’s newest club.

John Ryberg, Ryan James and Luke Carty were recently included in the training squad for the USA Eagles.

“I’ve been thinking about this possibility for the past few years so it’s very exciting,” Thomas said.

“Now it’s up to me to keep performing and make the next cut.”

Thomas was raised in Australia and has played the bulk of his professional rugby in Japan but qualifies for Canada through his father Phillip being born in Edmonton.

“Playing for the Giltinis has created this chance. It’s an unreal experience playing and training with the calibre of player we have in our squad,” Thomas said.

“I try to be a sponge around (captain) Dave Dennis in particular. It’s not just on-field things but the way he pushes accountability and striving to do your role the best you can.”

Thomas said the 17-12 loss to Rugby ATL was a major disappointment but corrections would be made for the June 13 clash against the Houston SaberCats at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“That was a tough one. We all have to be honest about where we can be better and not blame the system. There’s some self-reflection going on before we are back into the hard work,” Thomas said.

The cruel spin-off to the loss to Rugby ATL was hooker Lindsey Stevens being stretchered off with an injury that has ruined his own immediate aspirations of Canadian selection.

He had surgery this week to repair multiple fractures of his knee cap and is looking at a six-month recovery.

In other international placements, Harry McNulty has returned to the Irish Rugby 7s program in their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in late July.

BURGER KINGS

Giltinis’ scrum coach Alex Corbisiero is a man of his word.

The former England prop had promised the Giltinis’ forwards a reward should they finish a match with 100 per cent positive scrum action.

The pack ticked that target against the Utah Warriors last month so “Corbs” recently paid up for his army of big bodies and massive appetites.

“Corbs set us a scrum challenge to assert dominance and he’s a man of his word,” hooker Sean McNulty said.

Big boppers Charlie Abel, Blake Rogers and the rest of the forwards descended on In-N-Out Burger at El Segundo to each devour two Double-Doubles, chips and a milkshake.

Corbisiero was more than $500 lighter at the end of the eating frenzy.

That’s history because the Giltinis need to crank up improvements to their set piece for the next home game against Houston.

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MEDICAL ROOM

Lindsey Stevens – Hooker (knee)

Mahe Vailanu – Hooker (thumb)

Glenn Bryce – Fullback (ankle)

Christian Poidevin – Flanker (collarbone)

Seru Vularika – Centre (hamstring)

Marco Fepulea’i – Prop (knee)

Jeff Peleseuma – Five-eighth (foot)

Sione Tuihalamaka – Prop (tricep)

The Giltinis play Houston SaberCats on their return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, June 13. For tickets, visit www.giltinis.com/tickets/

The match will be broadcast live from 5.30pm (PT) on Bally Sports SoCal in Los Angeles and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.

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