With the Canada Club approaching Australia have named their squad on Friday, a vastly changed squad from their Paralympic Title winning side, seeing just six players returning from that squad as Australia looks to experiment ahead of the World Championships in August.
Ryley Batt, Chris Bond, Josh Hose, Jason Lees, Naz Erdem and captain Ryan Scott are the players returning from the London Paralympics while Michael Ozzane, Jason Ellery, Jayden Warn and Matthew Lewis will all be hoping to make an impression and earn some time on the court.
For Australia the Canda Cup may be prestigious but it is not their sole goal as the Steelers look to build a team, not just for winning the World Championship in summer but also begin preparations to defend their gold medal in Rio in 2016.
Lewis’ inclusion is significant, along with Bond and Batt it now gives Australia three 3.5 classified players which will put less playing load on Batt and Bond who have been seeing a lot of court time in the last several years.
Australia currently sit second in the world behind the United States, who will not be attending the Canada Cup, and if they want to return to the world number one position they will need to win the World Championship.
The World Championship has eluded Australia, making it the major achievement that coach Brad Dubbberley is missing from his impressive resume and Australia have made it clear that, while winning the Canada Cup would be important, the World Championship is more so.
The squad named by Australia is perhaps the deepest the Steelers have fielded which will allow great flexibility with combinations and versatility, while also allowing some greater rotation of players, which should cut down on fatigue, allowing an even stronger performance from their front line players.
The Canada Cup will allow Australia the chance to get those combinations ready for the World Championships and then on to the 2016 Paralympics.
Australian Wheelchair Rugby Team (Courtesy: IWRF)
#2 – Nazim Erdem – 0.5
#3 – Ryley Batt – 3.5
#4 – Josh Hose – 3.0
#5 – Jason Ellery – 2.0
#6 – Michael Ozzane – 0.5
#7 – Jason Lees – 1.0
#10 – Chris Bond – 3.5
#11 – Ryan Scott – 0.5
#12 – Curtis Palmer – 2.5