Canada, resigned to a hefty defeat at the hands of the All Blacks, have decided to rest the majority of their first-choice players for Friday’s Pool D game against New Zealand.
Coach David Clark, apparently with next Tuesday’s clash against Italy in mind, has retained just one of the starting XV which was beaten by Wales last weekend.
Centre Marco di Girolamo is the only survivor in a side to be captained by blindside flanker Ryan Banks in the absence of Al Charron.
“It’s intimidating for some of the guys because you see the All Blacks on billboards and you read in the paper how much money they’re making, and all the predictions how we’re going to lose by 80 points and stuff like that but the guys are excited to be here,” said Banks.
“We don’t have a lot going for us – we don’t have professionalism, we don’t have the depth of players they have and the pace and speed, but we have toughness and we have heart and that takes us a long way.”
Hooker Aaron Abrams faces the daunting task of making his first Test start against an experienced All Black front row, all with World Cup experience from 1999.
Kevin Tkachuk, who came off the bench to score Canada’s only try against Wales, has been named at loose-head prop, with Garth Cooke starting at tight-head.
Clark conceded his side had no chance of pulling off a shock victory and said it would have been irresponsible not to have rotated the squad given they have a far greater chance of beating Italy.
“It’s a difficult task to manage a playing staff in such a way to give us the opportunity to play the games we believe we can do very well in,” Clark said.
“It’s not disappointing, it’s just a fact the way the draw is.
“Because we are not as important to world rugby as the New Zealanders or the Australians or England, we don’t get the plum jobs.
“That’s just the way life is. As Bill Gates said, ’life’s not fair, get used to it’.
“I’m sure the IRB in their wisdom tried to make it a level playing field, but reality is we are not a world power in rugby, so we get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.”
Canada’s team to play New Zealand on Friday: Q Fyffe; M King, J Cannon, M di Girolamo, S Fauth; J Barker, E Fairhurst; K Tkachuk, A Abram, G Cooke, J Cudmore, E Knaggs, R Banks (captain), J Douglas, J Reid.
Replacements: M Lawson, R Snow, A van Staveren, C Yukes, M Williams, R Smith, N Witkowski.