By Brian Lowe, AMNRL Media management

The American National Rugby League has cast its net far and wide in naming an expansive Train-On squad for the USA Tomahawks’ upcoming schedule of international matches.

The squad consists of 44 players from the AMNRL’s Atlantic Conference, 19 from the new Pacific Conference, four from the Midwest and Southeast expansion conferences and another 15 who are based overseas.

Eventually the squad, which includes a mix of players with dual code experience, will be trimmed to 20 for the Rugby League World Cup Qualifying series in October. Prior to that, 17-man squads will be named for the two Colonial Cup tests against Canada.

Among the rugby converts who have played for the US Eagles and national Sevens team are Tyrone Coppedge and Pila Taufa, while Ben Sadgrove and Keiki Misipeka have both played Super League in the USA with Old Blue New York and the Chicago Griffins respectively.


Josh Price during Practice

The Tomahawks coaching staff has also selected promising American Football crossover athletes Josh Rice and Jayson Rego, both formerly at the University of Hawaii, as well as Hawaiian-born and Australian raised Leslie Alovili, one of the leading try-scorers in the Atlantic Conference this season.

“The opportunity to meet with (head coach) Matt Elliott in Hawaii allowed us to design a plan for the Tomahawks program leading into the RLWCQ and beyond,” said US coach David Niu. “Our goal is to assemble the best players available for each international and prepare them remotely prior to team assembly.

“By selecting players from around the country as part of the train-on squad it gives the players a timeline to prepare, and the coaching staff a chance to interact directly with each player and introduce team systems and conditioning programs.”

The Train-On squad may be widened in the coming weeks so that the Tomahawks coaches can get a look at as many eligible players as possible to ensure the USA maximizes its chances of success at the RLWCQ. USA Tomahawks Train-On Squad:

Atlantic Conference

Fitzjames Adams (New York Knights), Leslie Alovili (Northern Raiders), Fred Backhaus (Bucks County Sharks), Gareth Baxendale (New York Knights), Mike Brazill (Aston Bulls), Ryan Coleman (Aston Bulls), Luke Collins (Aston Bulls), Bryan Confer (Aston Bulls), John Convery (Aston Bulls), CJ Cortalano (New York Knights), Curtis Cunz (Connecticut Wildcats), John Dykeman (New York Knights), Ian Elliott (New York Knights), Will Garcia (Connecticut Wildcats), Michael Garvey (Aston Bulls), John Grace (Aston Bulls), Andrew Kneisly (Aston Bulls), Vaisia Korisetta (Bucks County Sharks), Xavier Lonzinguez (New York Knights), Corey Mayo (Aston Bulls), Kirk Miller (New York Knights), Calder Orr (New York Knights), Zac Padgett (Bucks County Sharks), Mike Phillips (Connecticut Wildcats), Charlie Rizzo (Connecticut Wildcats), Matt Reilly (Northern Raiders), Paulo Reis (Northern Raiders), Justin Ripley (New York Knights), Ben Sadgrove (New York Knights), Mike Schacter (Connecticut Wildcats), Phil Schacter (Connecticut Wildcats), Phil Shipos (Bucks County Sharks), Nate Smith (Aston Bulls), Ryan Sodano (Bucks County Sharks), Dan Taylor (New York Knights), Sean Taylor (New York Knights), Mike Thompson (Connecticut Wildcats), Steve Thompson (Bucks County Sharks), Louis Tulio (Aston Bulls), Alejandro Valentin (Aston Bulls), Joel Venables (Northern Raiders), Fred Vero (Northern Raiders), Nick Vornley (Connecticut Wildcats), Justin Zadnik (Bucks County Sharks)

Pacific Conference

Andrew Malafu (Maui Voyagers), Vaka Manupuna (Maui Voyagers), Kelly McGill (Maui Voyagers), Manu Peni (Marist Marauders), Thomas Ray (Hawaii Islanders), Jayson Rego (Hawaii Islanders), Joshua Rice (Hawaii Islanders), Ikavalu Sake (Hawaii Islanders), Apelu So’oalu (Marist Marauders), Anthony Sunia (Marist Marauders), Tounga Talakai (Maui Voyagers), Pila Taufa (Maui Voyagers), Keone Tawata (Hawaii Islanders), Lance Tongakilo (Honolulu Titans), Mike Tuala (Maui Voyagers), Mosese Uitalia (Kalihi Raiders), Dusten Umeda (Honolulu Titans), Molo Vaka (Marist Marauders), Emagi Vaimasanuu (Marist Marauders)

Midwest Expansion Conference

James Anderson (Chicago Stockyarders), Dan Grace (Chicago Stockyarders)

Southeast Expansion Conference

Apple Pope (Jacksonville, FL), Salesi Tongamoa (Atlanta Legion RLFC)

Overseas Based Players

Mark Cantoni (Northern Pride – Qld), Tyrone Coppedge (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles – Qld), Nathan DeBartolo (Sydney Bulls – NSW), Kristian Freed (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles – Qld), Danny Howard (Wentworthville Magpies – NSW), Stephen Howard (Tuggeranong Vikings – Canberra), David Marando (Belrose Eagles – NSW), Ryan McGoldrick (Castleford Tigers – SLE), Keiki Misipeka (American Samoa), Kea Misipeka (American Samoa), David Myles (NQ Cowboys/NZ Warriors – NRL), Clint Newton (Hull Kingston Rovers – SLE), Mark Oferdahl (Easts Tigers – Qld), Matt Petersen (Parramatta Eels/Gold Coast Titans – NRL), Mitchell Stevens (Gateshead Thunder – Cooperative Championship 1 UK)

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