USA Hawks name 25 Squad for Qualifiers Against Cook Islands
United States coach Sean Rutgerson has named his extended squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Cook Islands at the University of North Florida on November 16.
And on top of those who have represented the stars and stripes already this year, Brooklyn’s Tim Stubbs and Tampa’s Justin Branca have receive call-ups.
Stubbs has experience in the UK, having turned out for Keighley Cougars. Branca took up rugby league in 2016 after a distinguished career in the US military.
The bad news for the Hawks is the absence of Cronulla Shark centre Ronaldo Mulitalo, who had hoped to play. But a club-mate at the NRL side, Elijah Ieriko. Elijah is a graduate of Auckland’s prestigious Mt Albert Grammar School who is making his way up the grades at the southern Sydney club.
Another interesting inclusion is Sonny Pettybourne, brother of experience Hawks campaigner Eddie, who is better known as a rugby union player based on Australia’s Gold Coast. Sonny was in the Hawks squad last year. Both brothers have been selected to play for the USA Hawks on November 16.
Aussie-based forward Matt Shipway - based at Port Macquarie on the NSW North Coast - returns after a two year absence form the national team program.
The USA Hawks have home advantage for the game, but head coach Sean Rutgerson recognises the size of the challenge and is looking forward to the game with great relish, saying: “We are looking forward to the challenge of taking on the Cook Islands, especially as they are pretty much all full time players."
USA 25-MAN SQUAD
Nick Newlin (Atlanta Rhinos) Brandon Anderson, Connor Donehue, Alex Foster, Kevin Reed Jr, Jamil Robinson, Tim Stubbs (Brooklyn Kings), Sonny Pettybourne (Burleigh Bears), Edward Pettybourne (Central Queensland Capras), Elijah Ieriko (Cronulla Sharks), Mark Offerdahl (Goondiwindi Boars), Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Rory Humphreys (Ipswich Jets), Charlie Jones, Khalial Harris (Jacksonville Axemen), Joe Eichner (Northern Pride), Ryan Burroughs (NOVA Eagles), Andrew Kneisly (Philadelphia Fight), Matt Shipway (Port Macquarie Sharks), Corey Makelim (Sheffield Eagles), Jerome Veve (South Logan Magpies), Justin Branca (Tampa Mayhem), Danny Howard (Wentworthville Magpies), Kristian Freed (West’s Mitchelton), Matt Walsh (White Plains Wombats)