Canada Ravens coach Mike Castle will begin finalising his World Cup squad in coming weeks after a training camp in Brampton, Ontario.
Castle and Ben Hickey will use the camp, which concluded with an inter-squad match, to help decide the 24 players who will take part in Canada’s second IRL World Cup in November in England.
With temperatures of up to 29°C, the long days out at Brampton RFC were not easy, but the players continued to push themselves to great extremes.
The camp’s schedule included multiple on-field training sessions, skills testing, an inter-squad game, and of course, team bonding.
“It was a great three days,” Castle said. “Lots of fun but lots of hard work at the same time. It was hot and the ground was hard.”
When asked what stood out most to him, Castle said: “The way everyone comes together. Every time we have a camp they just get closer and closer as a group which is really good for rugby league in Canada.
“They are all really instinctive rugby players so you can see that and it was nice for them to have the opportunity to show what they’ve got.”
With the challenges caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the players have only been able to come together on one other occasion for a camp in Burnaby, BC in April, where the Ravens took on the USA Redtails.
LET'S GO!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/7GGYtcuRlH
— CanadaRavensRL (@CRLA_Ravens) July 16, 2022
Canada beat the Redtails 42-10 but Castle said the team still has a lot of improvement.
“Rugby league is still pretty new to everybody,” Castle said. “Even the players that played at the last World Cup, they’ve only played a small number of games compared to the teams we’ll be facing at the World Cup, so lots to work on.”
The Ravens currently sit sixth in the International Rugby League World Rankings and are hoping to use the World Cup to move up the standings, facing teams ahead of them such as England, who are placed third, and fourth-placed Papua New Guinea, as well as Brazil.
Castle will be announcing the first round of selections in the upcoming weeks.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself here again in Canada and can’t wait to come back. I am looking forward to selecting the team over the next couple of months for the World Cup,” he said.
“That’s going to be a tough choice, everyone’s done a really good job and we’ve got a really difficult choice ahead of us but I think we’ve built a really good culture within the group and I’m looking forward to continuing it.”
The players will have an opportunity to play in the Canada Rugby League East v West game in September in British Columbia before the final World Cup squad is announced.