07/16/2015 05:35 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Canada names Pacific Nations Cup team as coach Crowley preps for Rugby World Cup

TORONTO - Fresh from winning gold at the Pan American Games, rugby sevens captain John Moonlight is switching his attention to the 15-man game as Canada competes at the Pacific Nations Cup.

Moonlight is joined on the 31-man Canadian roster by Pan Am sevens teammates Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mack, Harry Jones and Conor Trainor.

Canada, ranked 17th in the world, opens play at the six-team tournament Saturday against No. 13 Japan in San Jose before facing No. 12 Tonga on July 24 in Burnaby, B.C., and No. 9 Samoa on July 29 in Toronto. The competition wraps Aug. 3 with playoff matches in Burnaby, B.C.

"It's a really good competition with four really good games," said Canadian coach Kieran Crowley, who will announce his 31-man World Cup squad after the tournament.

Crowley is giving Moonlight, Jones and Trainor the first game off but Mack and Hirayama, as scrum and fly half, will be on the bench in San Jose

Tyler Ardron will captain the Pacific Nations Cup team which includes veterans Hubert Buydens, Aaron Carpenter, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Phil Mackenzie, James Pritchard and DTH van der Merwe.

But other key players are returning from injury and Crowley will have to wait on the status of Jamie Cudmore (head), Jebb Sinclair (knee), Taylor Paris (groin), Nanyak Dala (arm) and Jason Marshall (knee).

Tom Dolezel broke his arm in the recent Canadian camp and fellow prop Jake Ilnicki is currently playing in Australia.

Crowley says Cudmore, the leader in the Canadian pack who plays in France, is keen to play at the World Cup.

The Pacific Nations Cup roster features a famous Canadian rugby name in back-rower Thyssen de Goede. His father Hans de Goede, a player of considerable renown, captained Canada at the 1987 World Cup while his stepmother Steph White was Canada's first-ever women's captain.

"It's an opportunity for him over the next four weeks to put pressure on a couple of guys that aren't in this group at the moment," said Crowley.

English-based flanker Richard Thorpe adds experience in the back row,

The Canadians will play the 16th-ranked U.S. in Ottawa on Aug. 22 and the Glasgow Warriors in Halifax on Aug. 29 before heading to England to take on No. 14 Georgia on Sept. 2 in Esher and No, 11 Fiji on Sept. 6 in London.

"It's a great year, the World Cup year, from a coaching perspective," said Crowley.

Canada opens its World Cup campaign on Sept. 19 against No. 3 Ireland before taking on No. 15 Italy, No. 7 France and No. 18 Romania.

The Pacific Nations Cup will offer a World Cup Group B preview with the U.S. meeting Samoa on July 18 and Japan taking on the Americans on July 24.


Canada Roster

Tyler Ardron (capt.) Ospreys (Wales,) Lakefield, Ont.; Ray Barkwill, Castaway Wanderers, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Brett Beukeboom , Cornish Pirates (England), Lindsay, Ont.; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Connor Braid, B.C. Bears, Victoria; Hubert Buydens, Castaway Wanderers, Saskatoon; Aaron Carpenter, Cornish Pirates (England), Brantford, Ont.; Thyssen de Goede, James Bay AA, Victoria; Matt Evans, Cornish Pirates (England), Maple Bay, B.C.; Kyle Gilmour, Rotherham Titans (England), St. Albert, Alta.; Jeff Hassler, Ospreys (Wales), Okotoks, Alta.; Ciaran Hearn, Castaway Wanderers, Conception Bay, N.L.; Nathan Hirayama, UVIC Vikes, Vancouver; Tyler Hotson, Doncaster Knights (England), Vancouver; Harry Jones, Capilano RFC, North Vancouver; Phil Mack, James Bay AA, Victoria; Phil Mackenzie, Sale Sharks (England), Oakville, Ont.; Jason Marshall, Agen (France), North Vancouver; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; John Moonlight, James Bay AA, Pickering, Ont.; Callum Morrison, UBC Old Boys Ravens, Victoria; Evan Olmstead, Parramatta Two Blues (Australia), Calgary; Jon Phelan, Doncaster Knights (England,) Montreal; Benoit Piffero, Blagnac (England), Montreal; James Pritchard, Bedford Blues (England), Parkes, Australia; Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville Crusaders, Oakville, Ont.; Richard Thorpe, London Welsh (England), Beckenham, England; Andrew Tiedemann, Plymouth Albion (England), St. Albert, Alta.; Conor Trainor, UBCOB Ravens, Vancouver; Liam Underwood, Balmy Beach RFC, Toronto; DTH Van Der Merwe, Scarlets (Wales), Regina; Doug Wooldridge, Lindsay RFC, Lindsay, Ont.

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