The Atlantic Group qualifying for the Rugby League World Cup comes down to one game this Saturday, when the USA Tomahawks take on the Japan Samurais with the winner progressing to next year?s repecharge round to decide the remaining tenth spot in the 2008 World Cup finals.
The game will be played at the Aston Community Centre Field, with free entry for spectators and a 6pm kick off following a day of youth football and a curtain-raiser between local side Aston Bandits and Chichester Crusaders. When these sides last met in January for the East-West Cup, America ran out winners 40-10, but the Japanese hope that the game will be closer this time.
The Japanese side gathered in Tokyo on 7-9 October for a weekend of training. They have named a touring squad of seventeen with five players having represented Japan before, six players from the local Tokyo Warriors, and seven players with a rugby union background. In a website interview with Japanese captain Mr Konishi, he admits that it will be a hard task to beat the Americans, but that this Japanese team has been focussing on its defence, and the ability to use its speed and stamina to surprise America with their attack.
The USA Tomahawks side will be drawn from players having competed in the recent AMNRL season, and who have been training ahead of what was originally intended to be a six game series between four teams before the West Indies and South African squad withdrew from World Cup qualifying. However should the USA win and progress to the next round of qualifying, they may draw upon other eligible players from competitions around the world.
Sources: http://www.amnrl.com and http://geocities.yahoo.co.jp/gl/japaneserugbyleague