SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Star winger DTH van der Merwe is set to win his 50th cap Saturday when Canada takes on the U.S. in the Americas Rugby Championship.
Van der Merwe, who made his debut against Barbados in 2006, is Canada's all-time try-scorer with 31.
Canada, ranked 21st in the world, is coming off a 32-31 loss to 18th-ranked Uruguay in Montevideo last weekend. That consigned the Canadian men to one final shot at qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup at a repechage tournament in November.
The Canadians lost the two-game aggregate series against Uruguay by a 70-60 margin.
The 17th-ranked Americans defeated Canada last summer in its first attempt to qualify for the World Cup.
Canada has not beaten the U.S. since 2013 but holds a 38-18-2 edge in the overall series.
Canadian coach Kingley Jones has made six changes to his starting lineup with Djustice Sears-Duru, Josh Larsen, Kyle Baillie and Luke Campbell, earning his first cap, drawing into the forward pack. Guiseppe du Toit and Pat Parfrey come into the backline.
Martial Lagain and Cole Davis could earn their first caps off the bench.
After the U.S. matchup, Canada hosts No. 25 Brazil at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Feb. 17 in the third game of the ARC.
Djustice Sears-Duru, Ealing Trailfinders (England), Oakville, Ont.; Ray Barkwill, Seattle Seawolves (U.S.), Niagara Falls, Ont.; Jake Ilnicki, Newcastle Falcons (England), Williams Lake, B.C.; Josh Larsen, Northland (New Zealand), Parksville, B.C.; Kyle Baillie, London Scottish (England), Summerside, P.E.I.; Lucas Rumball, Balmy Beach RFC, Mississauga, Ont.; Matt Heaton, Darlington Mowden Park (England), Godmanchester, Que.; Luke Campbell, James Bay AA, Victoria; Phil Mack (capt.), James Bay, Victoria; Shane O’Leary, Ealing Trailfinders (England), Cork, Ireland; DTH van der Merwe, Newcastle Falcons (England), Victoria; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Guiseppe du Toit, UVIC Vikes, Maple Ridge, B.C.; Brock Staller, Meralomas RFC, Surrey, B.C.; Patrick Parfrey, Swilers RFC, St. John's, N.L.
Martial Lagain, Sherbrooke Abenakis, Saint-Jean-de-Marsacq, France; Anthony Luca, Burnaby Lake RFC, Burnaby, B.C.; Cole Keith, James Bay AA, Sussex, N.B.; Conor Keys, UVIC Vikes, Stittsville, Ont.; Dustin Dobravsky, Castaway Wanderers, Hanover, Germany; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Robbie Povey, Castaway Wanderers, Northampton, England; Cole Davis, Calgary Saints, Calgary.
The Canadian Press