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Apple Pope ready for Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup

The USA Tomahawks resume their international rugby league schedule this coming Saturday when they take on Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup in Philadelphia.
Apple Pope ready for Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup
by NRL

The USA Tomahawks resume their international rugby league schedule this coming Saturday when they take on Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup in Philadelphia.

The American National Rugby League team once again will be captained by Apple Pope. It will be his fourth straight Test as Tomahawks skipper and he's pleased as punch to be given the nod.

"Being named captain of the USA is an amazing honor and a bigger achievement than I ever imagined possible for myself," Pope tells WeAreRugby.

"Being selected team captain now for the fourth time is a great feeling and really lifts my confidence knowing I have earned the continued respect of the coaching staff and players."

Saturday's Test is the first match of what will be a busy season for the US. Following the Irish game, the Tomahawks are scheduled to play Canada twice in an expanded Colonial Cup series this summer, before they host Jamaica and South Africa in the Rugby League World Cup Atlantic Zone qualifying series in the fall.

The winner of that RLWCQ series earns one of only two berths still open for the 2013 World Cup in England.

Pope will be taking an unbeaten 3-0 record as US captain into this weekend's match against a relatively inexperienced Wolfhounds team, and while victory would be nice, he says it's not the most important thing.

"Another international win would be great, but the real goal is to continue our team development strategies, build team chemistry and do the things necessary to put ourselves in a position to be competitive during the WC qualifiers later this year," says Pope.

"What the Irish lack in experience I think they'll make up for with excitement, pride and determination to represent their country in the USA on St Patrick's Day weekend."

And as for what he thinks about the Tomahawks' squad, well, he reckons it's pretty darn good.

"I think a great squad of quality athletes were selected for the Donnybrook Cup and I'm really excited to get to work with all the new faces and playing styles," adds Pope.

"Team chemistry may be a challenge as I have never played club footy with any of the players in this selection. All the new Tomahawks selected just shows the number of quality footy players here in the States and our selectors' determination to locate and develop these talented guys."

The match is set to kick off at 4p EDST on Saturday, March 19th. For more information on venue, hotels and tickets please visit http://www.donnybrookcup.com


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