Hot on the heals of the Colonial Cup win by the USA on Saturday, I was able to catch up for a few words with Jamie Lester from Canada and also the USA coach Marcus Vassilakopoulos.
So First up I was talked to Canada’s Captain and Player/Coach Jamie Lester:
Rugby League International Scores: Jamie that was a really tough match!
Jamie Lester: Yeah, they got the jump on us, we didn’t come out too good. We had a 30% completion in the first half and you just can’t win games on 30%. It showed up on the score line when they were up 16-0, we fought back, but yeah just in the middle we got a bit sloppy too and they scored another two tries.
RLIS: Now in the first half, the no-try in the corner was quite controversial, from where I was it actually looked like it should have been a try to you guys and that really seemed to change the momentum in the first half?
JL: Looks, that’s debatable. I heard a call from the touchie that they took out the corner flag and that’s why it was disallowed, but we all know that the corner flags are not part of a touch line anymore, so yeah they might have got that one wrong, but that didn’t sway the game we just have to keep our heads and keep on working, yeah and just unfortunately our heads weren’t in it in the first half.
RLIS: Looking towards the next game in two weeks, what do you think you need to work on?
JL: Like I said, completion was a huge one. You know defensively I think we are trying to be crowd pleasers a little bit there and we tried to put the shots on, which isn’t always the best. We need to wrap them up and slow the play the ball down. Yeah just little things. The USA are going to be a stronger team when we go down there, its always harder to play on the road, I am sure there going to be a stronger team so we’re going to have to improve 100%
Next, I spoke to Marcus Vassilakopoulos the coach of the USA Tomahawks:
Rugby League International Scores: Vassy what an unbelievable game! The Canadians really came back in the last 10 minutes there?
Marcus Vassilakopoulos: Yeah, in the first half we performed really well and we shut them out. We talked about some of the areas of the game where we lose concentration, the first five minutes of the second half they scored 14 points on us and in the last 10 minutes they scored another 14 points, so we talked about those areas before the game and those were the areas that let us down a little with our points scoring. But it was a good tough game and the boys hung in there and I’m proud of them all the way they did.
RLIS: It was really a match of four distinct quarters literally each on the 20 minute mark. The first was Canada the you guys, Canada and you guys again and then Canada came back at the end a little bit.
MV: Yeah it was, you know it really was you could define the game by that! We kind a let them back into it a little bit and had some lapses in defence and then we had some back to back sets, we gave two silly penalties away and the scored two tries to capitalise. So definitely some areas we can work on but all in all I was proud in the way they stuck together and the way they played today.
RLIS: Now your number 5, Your winger, Dusten Umeda, absolutely amazing speed. That first try you guys had in the second half he just ran like two thirds of the field amazing speed on him!
MV: Yeah Dusten Umeda is from Hawaii, he’s one of our Hawaiian players. He’s just a really fit guy, he’s a cross fit master and takes care of his body and he really injects some great speed into the team, he has some great footwork and he’s a great kid to coach on top of it.
RLIS: Now there is a lot of debutants on this team, a lot of speculation from fans about why Apple Pope and Akarika Dawn aren’t playing, weather they are injured or that. Can you say a few words on that?
MV: Yeah, Akarika contacted me when I reached out to him, and he is actually coaching football I believe up in Canada somewhere. His family is in Canada and he’s coaching football and so he told me he was unavailable. Apple I have been in contact because he hurt his knee in the first game of the AMNRL season with the Bulls and he’s still not right. he’s hoping to be ready for the second game so I am going to talk to him again this week and find out how he’s coming on.
RLIS: So what do you need to do to for the next game to close this out?
MV: Aahh, I think we need to play a similar king of game like today. A good tough football we really muscled up, but the concentration and the lapse there of it in the first five and last five of each half we have got to tighten up a little bit there mentally and prepare ourselves a little better. I thought physically we were fine it was just the mental lapses.
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