Who Will Be Canada's First Choice Openside Flanker This Summer
posted April 30 2017
[ed. comments below]
Who do you think will be Canada's first choice for openside when the USA tests begin? It's an important position and Canada don't have a clear front runner for that spot.
If you look back at the ARC this year it was Lucas Rumball in the losses to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Ollie Nott in the loss to USA and win over Chile.
Going back to the November tests it was Matt Heaton in the losses to Samoa and Romania and Lucas Rumball in the loss to Ireland.
Further back to October 2016 and the Americas Pacific Challenge, it was Heaton in the losses to Samoa, Argentina and USA.
Go further back to the June 2016 tests, the loss to Italy, Rumball. The win over Russia, Rumball. The loss to Japan, Rumball.
So it seems the choices recently have been Rumball, Heaton and Nott.
Kyle Baillie has been in the mix during that time but at #6 blindside, does he have the pace for #7?
Canada have a plethora of second row playing professionally, Olmstead, Cudmore, Sinclair, Ardron have all been playing second row in Europe. Cudmore and Sinclair are probably the least mobile so are least likely to migrate to loose forward. If you move those behemoths to Cudmore #4, Sinclair #5, Olmstead #6 and Ardron #8 you have a fantastic maul and a strong short game but who is openside? Olmstead is probably the best forward right now for Canada, he can poach ball, he can run with the ball but he's not an openside, a good choice for blindside however considering Cudmore and Sinclair are best suited for second row.
Is it time to consider the 7s players? Moonlight may be in his last 7s season, like Phil Mack he still has a lot to offer the XVs game. He's mobile and physical, can he adapt back to the XVs game in time to help Canada this summer? Isaac Kaay still has a lot of 7s ahead of him but is it too much to expect him to step back to XVs and would he be allowed? He first impressed in XVs as a #8, and he's grown as a player on the 7s circuit.
Where does Admir Cejvanovic fit into the picture? This could be a key selection, what are your thoughts? Other Canada Notes
Shane O'Leary is back in the picture, his contract with Connacht was not renewed so he's available and is expected to suit up in the Canada v BC match on May 27th. One problem is his Connacht contract doesn't run out until June so some good will from Connacht and negotiating by Rugby Canada is in order but definitely expect him to be pushing for a #10 role or a centre role. He was Canada's #10 at the U20 2013 JWRT where Canada finished 2nd. One of its strongest performances. Shane was picked ahead of another good #10, Pat Kay that year, with Pat being slotted into a centre role. At Connacht he was mostly used in the centres so it would be good to see him get some time at #10 in the run up to the summer tests.