GRFU name strong 12-man team for NACRA 7’s – “business as usual” says Captain Ryan Gonsalves

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Executives of the GRFU and some of the selected players at yesterday’s press conference

Ryan Gonsalves, Kevin McKenzie, Claudius Butts, Ronald Mayers and Richard Staglon are just few of the star studded cast selected by the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) to represent Guyana in Mexico City, Mexico from December 3 – 4 at the 2014 North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) 7’s Championship.

Dubbed the ‘Road to Rio’, the GRFU President Peter Green believes that this is the best team Guyana has to offer and went to even state that the team will be the best in tournament.

Guyana is placed in Group C of the Championship, playing alongside defending Champions and host (Mexico), St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Cayman Islands.

Having won the tournament six consecutive times (2006 to 2011), Guyana lost to Mexico in 2012 and lack of funding kept the Caribbean’s best 7’s Rugby team out of the competition last year.

Dwayne Schroeder, Vallon Adams, Avery Corbin, Leon Greaves, Peabo Hamilton, Ronald Mayers and new comers Patrick King and USA based Isiejah Allen are the other players on the squad tipped to win it all.

“We’re not just going to win the tournament but we will play undefeated. We want to make a statement that we are the best in the Caribbean and have the ability to play with any team in the world. We’ve done it before and will do it again,” said Kevin McKenzie, who is making a return to the team for the first time since 2012.

McKenzie lives in Australia and plays professionally with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles. He has played a significant role in helping to propel Guyana’s rugby to the top of the region; guiding them to victory in each of their six titles.

“Some people might say we’re being cocky, but that’s not it; we’re aware of what is expected of us and we’re ready to deliver. I’ve been playing rugby for a long time and I’ve never been this hyped about a tournament and confident because I think this is the best team we have put together in terms of the players’ starting and those coming off the bench,” McKenzie said.

Ryan Gonsalves will wear the captain’s band in Mexico and at yesterday’s Press Briefing, held at the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) High Street building, he stated: “I’ve been prepared and ready for this tournament and I must say, I like the composition of the team. Most of us have been playing together for most of our lives and so, we know what it takes to win and will do whatever it takes as well.”

The team departs for Mexico on Friday and will play their first game against Mexico on December 3 at 11:28 am, followed by their clash with the Cayman Islands at 1:15 pm and will then finish off their opening day campaign against St Vincent and the Grenadines at 16.00 hrs

The 12 teams, based on their first day’s performance will then be seeded to vie for the title on the last day.

“We have the support of both the private and public sectors, as well as the Government of Guyana and that doesn’t happen too often, so with their support, I’m sure that we will do extremely well and make them proud. This is the Road to Rio and we are going to make History,” the GRFU President said.

Meanwhile, coach Theodore Henry said that training will continue as usual, noting, “We’ll train morning and afternoon until we’re ready to leave. I like the fact that the guys are all ready and it’s now time to deliver.”

Full Squad: Vallon Adams, Avery Corbin, Dwayne Schroeder, Richard Staglon, Ryan Gonsalves (Captain), Leon Greaves, Peabo Hamilton, Ronald Mayers, Kevin McKenzie, Claudius Butts, Isiejah Allen and Patrick King.

Coach: Theodore Henry, Colonel John Lewis (Manager) and Phillip Browne (Strength and Conditioning Trainer/Physiotherapist).

(By Rawle Toney)