Captain Tyler Ardron, nursing a knee injury, will miss Canada’s Rugby World Cup opener Saturday against Ireland.
Veteran forward Jamie Cudmore, in his fourth Rugby World Cup, will captain 18th-ranked Canada against No. 6 Ireland in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Ardron has not played since injuring his medial collateral ligament July 29 against Samoa in Toronto in Pacific Nations Cup play. Team officials hope he may be able to come off the bench in Canada’s second game Sept. 26 against No. 14 Italy in Leeds, England.
Canadian coach Kieran Crowley announced his lineup Thursday at a news conference in Swansea.
Sky Bet has Ireland as 1-750 favourite to win, meaning a $100 bet will return 13 cents in profit. Canada is a 66-1 underdog, with a $100 bet netting you $6,700.
Fullback Harry Jones also misses out on the Ireland game, recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in a warmup game against Fiji.
Matt Evans steps in for Jones, with Jeff Hassler and DTV van der Merwe on the wings and Nick Blevins and Ciaran Hearns at centre.
Nathan Hirayama opens at fly half with Gord McRorie at scrum half.
Former captain Aaron Carpenter fills in for Ardron at No. 8 with Kyle Gimour and sevens skipper John Moonlight at flanker. The 37-year-old Cudmore combines with Brett Beukeboom in the second row.
Props Hubert Buydens and Doug Wooldridge flank hooker Ray Barkwill.
In a somewhat surprising move, young lock Evan Olmstead does not make the matchday 22. Crowley had described the 24-year-old as the forward who had been the big mover in the leadup to the tournament.
Veteran Jebb Sinclair can provide cover for both the second row and back row. The London Irish forward starts on the bench, likely because he has seen limited action since recovering from a knee injury.
Van der Merwe and Carpenter are playing in their third World Cup.
Barkwill, Wooldridge, Beukeboom, Gilmour, Moonlight, McRorie, Blevins and Hassler are all making their tournament debut.
The Irish are defending Six Nations champions but enter the tournament on the heels of losses to Wales (16-10) and England (21-13).
Still Canada has never beaten Ireland, going 0-5-1 in matches between the two in all competitions .
The 20-team tournament opens Friday when host England, ranked fourth in the world, plays No. 9 Fiji at Twickenham.
Hubert Buydens, Ray Barkwill, Doug Wooldridge, Brett Beukeboom, Jamie Cudmore (capt.), Kyle Gilmour, John Moonlight, Aaron Carpenter, Gordon McRorie, Nathan Hirayama, DTH van der Merwe, Nick Blevins, Ciaran Hearn, Jeff Hassler, Matt Evans.
Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru, Andrew Tiedemann, Jebb Sinclair, Richard Thorpe, Phil Mack, Liam Underwood.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press