Thursday, 3 April 2014

When will Canada's unfortunate injury run end?

Match pic

The progress of results for the Canadian team during this World Cup cycle has been held up by some unfortunate luck with injuries. Will Kieran Crowley have better luck in 2014?

Despite Canada appearing to gather a nice pool of talent, especially in the outside backs who on paper have some considerable potential, frustratingly Kieran Crowley had scarcely opportunity to choose from them throughout 2013. No Tier 2 team suffered quite as many injuries and withdrawals last year as Canada.

Kieran Crowley entered the PNC with DTH van der Merwe, Phil Mackenzie, Jeff Hassler and Conor Trainor, Jamie Cudmore and Adam Kleeberger all injured. By the time playing Fiji and Tonga with 2 days rest took it's toll and it was time to face Ireland, Matt Evans, Sean Duke and Nick Blevins were added to that absentees list too.

When it came to their big match against Ireland there had near enough as many absentees as their much better resourced opponents had on the Lions tour, with the outside back stocks especially decimated. Canada led at 50 minutes but their bruised side and inexperienced bench saw them fall away spectacularly over the last 30.

The only time throughout the year where Canada had a team with most of the best players available was the August World Cup qualifiers, that they duly won comfortably with a 27-9 win away from home. By the time they got to November though, Jason Marshall, Aaron Carpenter, Cudmore, both the first choice hookers were all crocked and some of the bench options were down to bare bones. In Bucharest the bench front rowers were all 21 or under and had 1 cap between them

This has been a theme since the World Cup, which is frustrating for Canada fans as there is solid some potential there. One of the most impressive things last year was how young Tyler Ardron grew in others absence to lead the side, the scrum didn't quite suffer some of the nightmares in did in 2012 and certain bench and depth options showed solidity in the way they backed up in the PNC.

DTH van der Merwe has
been unlucky with injury
over the past 2 years
The job Crowley and Canada Rugby have done on the mess he inherited in 2008 has been a bit unheralded whilst their noisy North American rivals hog the press. They did reasonably okay for much of last year in less than ideal circumstances, it would be interesting with some better fortune with their squad how much they can achieve in 2014.

There are now matches scheduled with against Pacific Islanders with 2 days rest this year, but already DTH van der Merwe is absent with his second long term injury since the World Cup and Matt Evans is out with a broken leg, hopefully that will be an end to the Canadians ill luck with injury.

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