The Seattle Seawolves begin their 2020 preseason with a Thursday evening match against the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide on January 16 at Starfire Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 pm PT. The 2019 MLR Championship ring ceremony is at 6 pm and match kickoff is at 7 pm. The match is not being streamed.
The Seawolves have many of the players who have helped win back-to-back championships returning for 2020.
New players include Ross Neal and Harry Davies at outside center and fullback, respectively. Suli and Siti Tamaivena are reserves. The team will miss South African newcomers FP Pelser and Ryno Eksteen, Pumas flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamón, and Ulster recruit David Busby. Returning Canadian players Djustice Sears-Duru and Jeff Hasler are not on the matchday roster.
Also missing is Olive Kilifi, who will miss the 2020 season. He recently became an Assistant Coach with the Seattle Saracens and hopes to return to the Seawolves in 2021. Phil Mack has become the full-time Seawolves Assistant Coach, but should the need arise during the season, could perhaps return.
The forwards include a New Zealand front row of John Braddock at loosehead and Tom Scanlon at tighthead. Braddock is Canada eligible. Nico Krawczyk moves from his usual loosehead position to hooker. In the second row, Quinn Horton who can also play prop, pairs with Tyler Symon-Burke who plays at Westshore this season via the Hurricanes Development program in New Zealand. He is a mobile player and almost another loose forward. Carter Filion provides cover in the second row. Foster Dewitt covers hooker/loosehead and Blake Van Heyningen covers tighthead.
The back row of James O’Neill, Mason Flesch, and Siaki Vikilani are former or current Canada U20 players and are one of the strengths of the team. Backing them up are Peyton Eagar and Ed Ilnicki.
Crosby Stewart starts at scrum-half with Brandon Schellenberger the reserve. Thomas Isherwood starts at flyhalf and usually plays wing or fullback. Canada U20 coaches want to see him as a fly-half. Reid Watkins, a scrum-half, provides cover across the backline including flyhalf. Taylor de Souza will cover in the centers and David Devillers will cover the back three.
In the centers, Mua Uluilelata who has the size to handle the physicality expected from the Seawolves is the inside center and pairs with Gabe Casey, a recent Canada U20 graduate outside. On the wing is the Tide’s only senior capped player, Kainoa Lloyd. The other wing is Ty Benson from the Division One Cowichan side and played for the Tide in 2019. At fullback is Sam Reimer a utility back from Nanaimo.
Last year the score was 48-7 to the Seawolves. The Tide will be looking to improve their performance this year. The Seawolves look to develop team cohesion ahead of their next preseason match against Tasman Mako on January 26 and before the regular season.
Expect frigid conditions for the match! Ferries to the mainland were canceled for Thursday two days ago and the team had to catch the ferry yesterday morning to Seattle. It is unclear if any ferry schedule changes occurred. Traveling with the team is Pride coach Jamie Cudmore, as well as other coaches Nanyak Dala and John Buxcey.
The information about the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide is adapted from BC Rugby News.