Championship game breakers – 10 players to watch on Saturday

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This Saturday is the battle of the heavyweights when the year’s top two teams battle it out for the ultimate prize in USA Rugby League.

Jacksonville has been the benchmark club for many years and a victory on Saturday will see a third Championship in just 5 seasons. Philadelphia aren’t too far behind and their contribution to the sport both on and off the field now sees them with a solid group of players and fan base that’s growing and gets louder each game. Philadelphia are one of the oldest clubs in the USA (1998) and only experienced their first Championship two years ago and a second will cement their place in history with a core group of players from that same roster. Both teams are rich in talent with a healthy mix of both international and domestic players that will make this the most anticipated final in the history of Rugby League in the USA.


Philadelphia Fight – Players to Watch

Name: Matt Webster (Australia)
Position: Prop
Years with Fight: 2nd year, previous 2011 Championship team.
Matt is an experienced player who knows the game & the players around him. An excellent organizer & on-field director. Great ability to take on defenders & offload the ball which keeps the momentum of his team moving up the field. Big hits in defense come frequently.

Name: Casey Clark (USA)
Position: Second Row
Years with Fight: 1
Casey is a former Axemen player and arguably one of the finest players the USA has produced in recent years. Fit & strong. With a tenacious work rate, Casey continually threatens to break the line when he has possession of the ball. A strong and aggressive tackler this fierce competitor is also quiet achiever who goes about his job with no fuss. The more work, the happier he is.

Name: Kevin Wiggins (USA)
Position: Lock
Years with Fight: 2nd year, previous 2011 Championship Team
Kevin is a highly experienced, fit & strong workhorse type player. His in-your-face, never-say-die attitude accepts nothing but success and lifts teammates around him to do the same. His strong & powerful runs has the ability to cause havoc on the opposition defense while his aggressive tackling takes energy out of the opposition often stifling their attack.

Name: Joel Weeks (Australia)
Position: Halfback
Years with Fight: 3rd year, previous 2011 Championship, 2012.
Joel’s uncanny perception of the game makes him an excellent ‘reader’ on the field anticipating players strengths & weaknesses across the park. A thinking halfback with excellent vision, a great pass & kicking game and he defends well over his weight. Look for his combination with Wiggins when they break the line.

Name: Jared Frymoyer (USA)
Position: Winger
Years with Fight: 5
Previous USA Tomahawks player. Experienced winger with an incredible & effective tackling technique. Plays well over his weight & never shy to mix it with the bigger players. Strong & deceptive for his size, he has the ability to get through the ‘cracks’ to break the defense and score tries. Quick & deceptive with the ball in his hands.

Jacksonville Axemen – Players to Watch

Name: Apple Pope (USA)
Position: Hooker / Lock
Years with Axemen: 8 years – member of the Inaugural 2006 team
Apple has continued to improve all year and it is obvious that the game has slowed down for him and he now sees things develop and be able to adjust and plan, rather than react. He never misses tackles and improvement comes especially from marker where he is now totally at home in the concept of wait / contain / attack the defender. His dummy half play is now like a veteran where he reads the little things in the run of play to be more effective. Very capable for the full 80 mins.

Name: Brent Shorten (Australia)
Position: Five / Eight
Years with Axemen: 6 years
His 6th and best season with the Axemen. Giving him the coaching role has really seen him become a true leader on the team. Brent makes good decisions at the right times and targets weaknesses when he runs and finds holes to place players into. He rarely misses tackles thanks to his wrestling that gives him the ability to be also dominant on the ground.

Name: Brenden Beedle (USA)
Position: Prop
Years with Axemen: 2nd season
Fast and tough making line breaks each time he carries the ball especially in set plays to target weaker defenders. One of these easiest guys to coach and he can be used as a prop or back rower thanks to his high work rate. Always in the top 3 players for both hits ups and tackles.

Name: Bart Longchamp (USA)
Position: Prop
Years with Axemen: 3rd year (developed from the minor league Orlando Club)
A giant on the field, Bart runs hard, tackles harder and is one of the players that many opponents stay away from once they’ve been on the receiving end of his hits. Plays the ball fast, giving his team good momentum in clutch moments. On defense is able to flip players on their back allowing more time for his team to return on-side.

Name: Taylor Alley (USA)
Position: Center
Years with Axemen: 3 (college development team for the Axemen since 2006)
Fast and totally understands the concept of hitting the line at speed and searching for the hole. Runs a great “unders line” off a pivot and has speed to get to the line. His defense is solid and his technique is now top shelf. He has very fast initial speed that he uses with great effectiveness when running from dummy half.

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