Canada's head coach Kieran Crowley has kept the faith in retaining the same 22 that took on the Australian Barbarians to face Tonga.
No changes have been made to the side that fell valiantly to the Barbarians 38-14 on the Gold Coast in August, as Crowley feels the team has built continuity and familiarity and has the right mettle to tackle the Tongans' style of play.
"We've worked guys in throughout preparation and picked what we think is the strongest team," Crowley said. "We've hopefully given them enough game time together so they'll be right. We look at who we're playing against and what team we think is best to face Tonga and we consider this is the best possible team to do that and that's where the selections have come from."
While Tonga have already opened their World Cup campaign with a 41-10 loss to the New Zealand All Blacks last Friday, Wednesday's game will be Canada's first of the tournament.
And Crowley knows where his team's strengths must lie if they are to down the 12th ranked Tongans, whose team boasts a fully professional lineup with players from both European clubs and the Super 15.
"The set play is crucial, you've got to get good platform ball, so that will be a massive challenge for the guys around the scrum and the lineout," Crowley said. "Obviously the contact area, Tonga bring a real physical game to the table and we've got to match that."
Leading the team Wednesday will be captain Pat Riordan, at hooker, who is earning his 40th cap for Canada. He will be joined in the front row by Hubert Buydens and Jason Marshall.
Jebb Sinclair and Jamie Cudmore retain their positions in the lock, surrounded by loose forwards Adam Kleeberger and Chauncey O'Toole in the blind and openside positions respectively and Aaron Carpenter at Number 8.
Veteran campaigner Ed Fairhurst, with more than 50 caps, starts the backline movement at scrum half, linking with pivot and vice-captain Ander Monro at flyhalf.
Phil Mackenzie will be looking for his fourth try in as many games, although one was uncapped against the Barbarians, on the blind wing and Ciaran Hearn returns to open wing.
In the centres, DTH van der Merwe and Ryan Smith will keep the Tongan defence honest, while James Pritchard earns his 40th cap, returning to fullback.
Crowley has opted for a 4:3 split on the reserves bench, with Ryan Hamilton and Scott Franklin on guard for the front row, Tyler Hotson backing the locks and Nanyak Dala ready to run with the loosies.
Canada's reserve backs are rife with youth, with 21-year-old centre Conor Trainor, 23-year-old scrumhalf Sean White and flyhalf Nathan Hirayama, also 23.
Canada opens its 2011 Rugby World Cup pool campaign against Tonga at 5 p.m. (NZST) at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Canadian side to face Tonga
1. Hubert Buydens (PRAIRIE WOLF PACK)
2. Pat Riordan (captain) (BC BEARS)
3. Jason Marshall (BC BEARS)
4. Jebb Sinclair (LONDON IRISH)
5. Jamie Cudmore (ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE)
6. Adam Kleeberger (BC BEARS)
7. Chauncey O'Toole (OSPREYS)
8. Aaron Carpenter (PLYMOUTH ALBION)
9. Ed Fairhurst (UBC OLD BOYS RAVENS)
10. Ander Monro (vice captain) (ONTARIO BLUES)
11. Phil Mackenzie (ESHER)
12. Ryan Smith (PRAIRIE WOLF PACK)
13. DTH van der Merwe (GLASGOW WARRIORS)
14. Ciaran Hearn (THE ROCK)
15. James Pritchard (BEDFORD BLUES)
16. Ryan Hamilton (BC BEARS)
17. Scott Franklin (PRAIRIE WOLF PACK)
18. Tyler Hotson (PLYMOUTH ALBION)
19. Nanyak Dala (PRAIRIE WOLF PACK)
20. Conor Trainor (BC BEARS)
21. Sean White (BC BEARS)
22. Nathan Hirayama (BC BEARS)
Kieran Crowley – Head coach
Geraint John – Assistant coach
Neil Barnes – Forwards coach
Mike Shelley – Scrum coach
Clive Griffiths – Defence coach
Matt Barr – Strength and conditioning coach
Rodger Swany – Team manager
Peter Huigenbos – Analyst
Calum Ramsay – Assistant analyst
Trevor Stone – Assistant manager
Tom Kennedy – Team media manager
Dr. Paul Watson – Team doctor
Carrie Smith – Head therapist
Carla Brash – Therapist
Anita Walsh – Therapist
Michele Brown – Massage therapist
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