16 Apr 2022

Canada Ravens start their preparation for the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup, which begins in England in just under 200 days, with a first-ever ‘derby’ Test match against USA later today (kick off 2.30pm local time). The nations will meet at Burnaby Lake RC, in Burnaby British Columbia, in what will be a debut for the USA Redtails who started their women’s programme in 2020.

It will be the Ravens’ first international match since 2019 and they include experienced Meg Pakulis and Christina Burnham, who starred in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, alongside Gabriel Hindley who had a short stint with North Sydney Bears in 2020 before the pandemic hit. Ferris Sanboe, Ashley Holt and Petra Woods, who all played in the inaugural Canada East vs. West game in 2020 will also make their bow. In all, ten Ravens are in line to win their first caps.

Tampa Mayhem scrum half Samantha Black-Keels will skipper the inaugural Redtails, whilst hooker Nicole Fisch and loose forward Cait King are earmarked as ones to watch. Their squad is made up of players from nine clubs.

Preceding the match both nation’s reserve sides - the Selects - will play and, as part of the event, Canada Rugby League hosted a three-day training camp for both squads.

Mike Castle, head coach of the Ravens, commented: “We’re really excited about being able to finally get on the field and see where we’re at as we begin our preparation for the World Cup. This event is all about providing our players with an opportunity to learn more about rugby league, develop as an athlete and build some stronger connections with each other. 

“We’re extremely grateful to the USA for making the trip north. This will be a historic occasion and we are excited about kicking off what will become a great rivalry."

USA women’s head coach, Ady Cooney, said: “We are excited to finally play the first women’s national game and have overcome many challenges to get to this point. Credit must be given to Garen Casey and Danny Hanson for the off field work they have done that enables us to play a fully sanctioned Test Match and earn an international ranking.

“We are well aware of the task ahead of us and we remain firmly focused on representing our country with respect, pride, and passion both this week and going forward. It is a huge honour for me to lead this group of talented women into battle and they are equally proud to represent their country on an international stage. They get to write their names into the history books and be the first of what we hope is a growing pool of players who we can develop and compete across the globe.

“Whilst our focus is on the game this weekend, we cannot lose sight of our goal to qualify for the 2025 World Cup and to develop a competitive domestic competition that can provide a pathway for future players to represent their country at the highest levels.”


Alanna Fittes, Ashley Holt, Brittany Jones, Ferris Sandboe, Kristy Sargent, Elizabeth Steele (Alberta), Ada Jane Okonkwo, Christina Burnham, Gabrielle Hindley, Meghan Bucannan (British Colombia),  Candace Scholten, Megan Pakulis, Natalie Tam, Petra Woods, Sab McDaid, Sarah Maguire, Steph Hovdestad, Natasha Naismith, Zoey Siciliano (Ontario)


Kala Crawford (Buffalo Women’s Rugby), Lauren Trout, Kadie Sanford, Bridget Kapinus, Nicole Fisch (Chicago North Shore), Jeanna Beard (Colorado Grey Wolves), Stacy Nemeth (Jacksonville), Mackenzie Dirlam (Pittsburgh Forge), Cait King (Raleigh Venom), Antares Lance, Carolyn Roach, Taylor White (Roots Rugby Family),  Robyn Oliveri, Samantha Black-Keels, Keki Jordan, Rachael Bradley (Tampa Mischief), Echo Hawton (Weber State)