Former Australian World Cup player Aaron Raper has named his Latin American side to take on North America in an NRL Grand Final weekend clash which captures rugby league’s growing global appeal.
Raper has made clear his intentions for the future, naming 20-year-old James Horvat as captain, with the aim of helping individual Latino nations build squads towards 2021 World Cup qualification.
Announcement of the GYG Latin Heat team comes the same week that Chile will hold a seven-team domestic tournament in Negrete, and seven weeks ahead of a tournament in Miramar, Argentina.
Raper’s 21-man squad includes six players who will make their debut in the GYG Latin Heat’s striking red-and-black jersey for the September 30 clash at St Mary’s Stadium, west of Sydney.
For the first time in two years the team will be without rampaging Guyanese centre Kevin McKenzie who suffered a broken hand playing for the Kawana Dolphins this year.
The GYG Heat represents players with heritage from 24 countries in South and Central America where there are no other international rugby league pathways.
In the Latin Americans’ most recent 80-minute appearance, they beat Thailand Stars 54-16.
The team’s North American opponents will be known as the CanAm Grazzilies, and feature a mixture of Canadian and USA players who have been in Australia to fine-tune their skills.
USA has already qualified for next year’s 2017 World Cup, while Canada was desperately unlucky to miss out and has become a force to be reckoned with in recent times.
The combined population of North, Central and South America is in excess of 1 billion people, with moves afoot to stage the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in the USA.
Tickets to the match are $5 and can be purchased in advance by clicking here.
Latin Heat will also feature a Development squad playing against Africa United the following day, Saturday October 1, at Liverpool All Saints, Hillier Oval, Liverpool.
Former refugee Fredy Arteaga-Figueroa will coach the Latino Development squad in a fixture that pays tribute to the unifying powers of sport.
All players who represent Latin American Rugby League abide by Rugby League International Federation qualification rules and must prove their heritage.
GYG LATIN AMERICAN HEAT v NORTH AMERICA (CanAm Grizzlies), Friday September 30, 6.30pm, St Mary’s Stadium.
HORVAT, James © (Chile)
WEGENER, Eduardo (vc) (Chile)
AGUIRRE ACEVEDO, Daniel (Chile)
ALARCON, Alvaro (El Salvador)
ALARCON, Miguel (El Salvador)
BOOTH, Matthew (Uruguay)
CAMA, Nicholas (Uruguay)
CARRION, Juan Carlos (Peru)
CLARKE, Steven (Uruguay)
DELAPAZ, Sebastian (Chile)
DOBERER, Nicholas (Chile)
ESPINOZA, Jonathan (Nicaragua/Chile)
GIULIANO, Jacob (Argentina)
GRAHAM, Jesse (Uruguay)
LAING, Jaden (Chile)
MILLAR, Bradley (Chile)
MILLAR, Trent (Chile)
MUNOZ, Joshua (Chile)
NAVARRO, Daniel (Argentina)
PARKER, Jacob (Peru)
ROSSINI, Andres (Uruguay)
COACH: RAPER, Aaron.