Latin Heat vs Portugal Rugby League

Date: 18/10/14

LATIN American and Portuguese Rugby League will be out to show in Sydney on Sunday that their followers idolise the names Inglis, Burgess and Thurston as much as roundball icons Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar.

Contesting the first-ever Copa Cabral, in honour of Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral, the two emerging international rugby league sides will meet at 3pm at Woollahra Oval, Rose Bay.

And the game promises to carry the same passion and rivalry as sports fans have come to love from clashes between Iberian and South American teams in soccer.

The announced Latin Heat side contains a combined eight nationalities from non-traditional rugby league backgrounds, including Guyana, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Heat fullback Kevin McKenzie, a former Commonwealth Games representative in rugby union, is adamant his birth country could be a goldmine for the NRL if developed properly.

“People from Guyana are very athletic. Even the big props are fast,” he says.

“I think straight away of a guy I know, 20-years-old, who is living there but could make it playing professionally in Australia if there was the opportunity.”

Two of the youngest players in the Latin American squad, Brandon Tobar (Chile) and Daniel Navarro (Argentina), are both fresh from performing well at the North Sydney junior selection trials on Saturday.

The more experienced Portuguese side will not field eligible NRL talent Isaac de Gois, but has nonetheless named a strong line-up intent on taking the game forward for their homeland.

Roosters co-coaches Daniel Viegas and Hugo Martins have made two late changes, adding Tarik Yalcinkaya and Joel Fernandes.

Meanwhile, Latin Heat head coach Gabriel Keegan has brought Uruguayan utility Nicholas Cama into his bench rotation.

Cama is the cousin of Javier Britos, who captained the Latinos to a successful first outing at the NRL Under 16 Harmony Cup recently.

The entire Heat squad will wear black armbands and observe a minute’s silence for Gracie Chacone, mother of team member Grantito Chacone, who passed away this week.

Grantito was to have led a traditional Nahuatl war dance before kick-off, but has withdrawn to be with his grieving family.

Latin American Rugby League asks that all fans using social media on Sunday use the hashtag #GameforGracie.

LATIN AMERICA v PORTUGAL, 3pm Sunday October 19, Woollahra Oval, Rose Bay, Sydney.

LATIN HEAT: Kevin McKenzie (Guyana), Adam Kungl (Uruguay), Brandon Tobar (Chile), Sebastian Delapaz (Chile), Luis Guillermo Fhon (Peru), Daniel Sarmiento (Colombia), Edwin Ventura (El Salvador), Eddie Wegener (Chile), Daniel Navarro (Argentina), Sean Day (Peru), Jye Sommers (Peru), Joshua Munoz (Chile), Aaron Perez (Peru). Interchange: Jonathan Espinoza (Nicaragua/Chile), Juan David Espinal (Colombia), Nicholas Cama (Uruguay), Jaden Laing (Chile), William Neculman (Chile), Carlos Rojas (Chile) – Two to be omitted. Coach: Gabriel Keegan (Argentina).

PORTUGAL ROOSTERS: Dale Jackson, Avari Waremaki, Terry Macroyannis, Rodney Manuela, Latham Manuela, David Kumar, Jacob Dematos, Hugo Martins, Ben de Brito, Nathan de Nobrega, Daniel Viegas, Ryan Chalker, Danilson Avelar. Interchange: John Freitas, Adam Dematos, Tarik Yalcinkaya, Joel Fernandes. Coaches: Daniel Viegas, Hugo Martins.