(Vancouver, British Columbia) 22 May 1998 -- Underdogs in an all-important Canterbury of New Zealand Pacific Rim Rugby Championship clash with Canada tomorrow, the United States has made three changes to the team that played in Hong Kong last week, head coach Jack Clark announced today.
In the forwards, tighthead prop Ray Lehner rejoins the starting squad alongside hooker and captain Tom Billups and loosehead Chris Lippert. Luke Gross and Alec Parker remain as the locks, while flanker Jason Walker takes over on the openside. Rounding out the forward pack are Rob Lumkong at number eight and Dave Hodges on the blindside flank.
In the backs, Tomasi Takau returns to his familiar place in the centers after a stint on the wing, pairing with Alatini Saulala. Chris Morrow joins the starting fifteen at fullback, which means a move to the right wing for Andre Blom. Perennial offensive threat Vaea Anitoni starts on the left wing. The inside backs are Andre Bachelet at scrumhalf and Matt Alexander at flyhalf.
The changes to the US lineup, which make room on the pitch for some in-form players, are minor compared to the Canadian overhaul since their last game, also a loss on the road to Hong Kong. The Maple Leafs have added eight new names to the starting team, all of them professionals returning from Britain for international duties.
The luxury of a week's rest as well as fresh bodies redoubles the USA's challenge. "Canada is the defending champion of this competition. They are not only at home, but at full strength," Clark noted after announcing the side. "We will need to play passionate and precise rugby to win, both of which we can do."
After their respective losses to Hong Kong, both the USA and Canada are 1-1 heading into Saturday's game at Thunderbird Stadium.
United States: Chris Morrow; Vaea Anitoni, Alatini Saulala, Tomasi Takau, Andre Blom; Matt Alexander, Andre Bachelet; Chris Lippert, Tom Billups, Ray Lehner, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Dave Hodges, Jason Walker, Rob Lumkong. Reserves: Kurt Shuman, Kevin Dalzell, Mark Scharrenberg; David Care, Sean Allen, John McBride, Bart Furrow.