The Philippine Rugby Football Union has named the 34-man squad that will train for the upcoming Asian 5 Nations Division 1 Championships to be held in Rizal Stadium, Manila on April 15-21, 2012.
For the third year in a row, the PRFU has selected a squad composed entirely of Filipino heritage players. Retained in the core group are a number of seasoned campaigners along with 5 debutants elevated to the national squad. These include forwards Mat Bellenie, James Neilson, Jake Ward and Steve Howorth along with utility player Brian West. Head Coach Expo Mejia feels confident he has the squad capable of winning the Division 1 Championships.
Mejia said, “It is never an easy thing to pick a national squad as you always leave behind quality players, but I feel this is the best combination we could come up with. We certainly have the depth to win Division 1 and the challenge will be to play 3 matches in 7 days.” Captain Michael Letts who has just finished the season with the Toyota team in Japan was excited by the influx of new talent. “It will certainly sharpen the competitive edge at training as we’ll all be fighting hard to grab a starting spot on the team,” remarked Letts.
Key players Gareth Holgate, Joven Clark, Fred Morris and Nick Pineda were all unavailable and veteran Josh Sutcliffe has recently announced his retirement from international rugby. “I would like to single out Josh for his tremendous loyalty and service to the Volcanoes over the years. He has had an outstanding career and is an inspiration to the entire squad both on and off the field,” said Coach Mejia.
The squad will assemble in Manila on Sunday April 8 to begin a weeklong training camp. The final squad of 24 players will be announced before the competition. The Volcanoes will face Singapore on April 15, Chinese Taipei on April 18 and Sri Lanka on April 21. Ticket information will be released shortly by the PRFU.
The Philippine National Men's 15s team has enjoyed much success since it began competing in the Asian 5 Nations -- Asia's premier Rugby Union Tournament. The team has managed to top its division and win promotion for three consecutive years, starting in Division 4 in 2008 and climbing to Division 1 in 2011. If the Volcanoes win Division 1, the Philippines will be promoted to the Elite Division in 2013 to compete with Rugby powerhouses Japan, Hong Kong. Kazakhstan and United Arab Emirates. For more information on the Asian 5 Nations, visit http://asian5nations.com/
The 2012 Volcanoes A5N squad:
Phil Abraham, JC Bautista, Mat Bellenie, Terry Carroll, Austin Dacanay, Michael de Guzman, Michael Duhig, Kit Guerra, Chris Hitch, Chris Hettell, Steve Howorth, James Neilson, Tyler Perez, Nick Perry, Darran Seeto, Richard Taylor, Josh Tolentino, Jaime Urquijo, Jake Ward
Justin Coveney, Chris Everingham, Cleo Gomez, Jake Letts, Michael Letts, Joe Matthews, Luke Matthews, Jon Morales, Harry Morris, Patrice Olivier, James Price, Matt Saunders, Oliver Saunders, Kenny Stern, Brian West
Expo Mejia (Head Coach), Jarred Hodges (Assistant Coach), Matt Cullen (Manager), Damian Raper (Physiotherapist)