Starting XV selected for U20 Trophy qualifier in Texas

ROUND ROCK, Texas - Hanco Germishuys will captain JD Stephenson's AIG Men's Junior All-Americans Saturday in their World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier against Canada at Dell Diamond.

Germishuys is one of four MJAAs to have missed out on last year's international competition due to an aggregate defeat to Canada north of the border. Saturday's match will kick off after the Men's Eagles' Americas Rugby Championship clash with Canada's senior side, and will be streamed live on USA Rugby TV.

Stephenson, the interim head coach for the MJAAs, made his 23-man team selections following an intense week of training in Austin, where the squad utilized the facilities of local Austin Blacks Rugby and even scrimmaged the Red River Division I side. The assembly follows the Winter Camp, attended by 52 players over the New Year holiday, and last month's Filter Camp, which gave the coaching staff time to work with athletes spread across the country.

"It's been a very physically- and mentally-tough week on the players," Stephenson said. "The combination of two sessions, film, and daily one-on-ones can be taxing for the players. Our recovery protocol has been imperative to ensure that players are rested and that injuries are managed."

Ben Cima and Louis Mulholland were part of the Eagles' Rugby World Cup 2015 Training Squad leading up to the eighth quadrennial, and retain the fly half and scrum half shirts, respectively, they wore in the two-match Trophy qualifier last March. Along with Germishuys, who will join the senior side when it travels to South America at the end of the month, and Nick Kwasniewski, the half-back pairing will serve as veterans on the team.

As well as working with the local community during the build-up week, preparing for the one-off match with a trip to Zimbabwe on the line, the MJAAs will receive a pep talk from Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell at Friday's jersey ceremony.

"It's a great vibe to be on the same pitch as the senior side, playing in a great venue, and it has rubbed off on the playing group," Stephenson said.

Ten young athletes in the starting XV have progressed through the age-grade ranks from Salty Thompson's Boys High School All-Americans, connecting the pathway from the under-18 level to the senior level. Additionally, nine starters are members of D1A Rugby collegiate teams.

The MJAAs have only defeated Canada twice since the spring of 2012, but, discounting the winless U20 Championship campaign in 2013, hold an overall record of 9-5 in that time span.

"The starting XV is the best reflection of how the Men's Junior All-Americans want to play rugby on Saturday evening," Stephenson said. "All 26 players in our greater squad play a vital role of getting the best out of each other, and this should be reflected in the starting XV."

Kickoff from Dell Diamond is tentatively scheduled for 8:45 p.m. CT Saturday, Feb. 13, with the live stream broadcast on USA Rugby TV. Match updates will also be provided on Twitter (@aarugby).

AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | v. Canada

1. Connor Cudeback

2. Steven Branham

3. Nick Kwasniewski

4. Sean Coleman

5. Malon Al-Jiboori

6. Uki Taumoefolau

7. Brennan Falcon

8. Hanco Germishuys (C)

9. Louis Mulholland

10. Ben Cima

11. Deion Mikesell

12. Brian Hannon

13. Lorenzo Thomas

14. Tyler Sousley

15. Mitchell Wilson

AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | Reserves

16. Zachary Haley

17. Chance Wenglewski

18. Mason Pedersen

19. Joshua Warnock

20. George Fotu

21. Ruben de Haas

22. Rodney Giles

23. Devin Lim

Canada | v. USA

1. Cali Martinez

2. Andrew Quattrin

3. Matt Tierney

4. Reegan O'Gorman

5. Conor Keys

6. Adrian Wadden

7. Nakai Penny

8. Luke Bradley

9. Cole Keffer

10. Robbie Povey

11. Theo Sauder

12. George Barton

13. Phil Berna

14. Trenton Cooper

15. Andrew Coe (C)

Canada | Reserves

16. Conor Sampson

17. Brendan Blaikie

18. Curtis Delmonico

19. Matt Beukeboom

20. Peter Milazzo

21. Keaton Porter

22. Mitch Richardson

23. Aaron Evison

AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | Coaching Staff

JD Stephenson - Interim Head Coach

Justin Goonan - Strength and Conditioning & Skills Coach

Pete Borlase - Forwards Coach

James Walton - Video Analyst

Michael Engelbrecht - Backs Coach & Manager

David Fee - Skills Coach

Scott Lawrence - Technical Advisor

Kevin Battle - Skills Coach & Academy Manager