Canada's young stars eager to shine at Edmonton Sevens

Rookie Brennig Prevost and newly minted assistant captain Jake Thiel, both of Victoria, are looking ahead to the Edmonton Sevens on Saturday and Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium after being named the Canadian finalists for the all-star Dream Team last weekend in the HSBC World Series Sevens tournament held at B.C. Place.

Four players from champion South Africa, two from finalist Kenya and one from the U.S. were chosen to the Vancouver Dream Team. But a new generation of Canadian players is being noticed following the host nation’s sixth place finish at B.C. Place. The quest will continue this weekend in Edmonton as Canada was drawn into a Pool A with South Africa, Hong Kong and Mexico.

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Glenlyon Norfolk School-grad Prevost, Oak Bay High-prodcut Jack Carson, Ciaran Breen of Victoria out of Shawnigan Lake School, Matt Percillier from Mill Bay and Brentwood College and Anton Ngongo of Victoria, out of Claremont Secondary, were among the nine debutantes for Canada at B.C. Place.

With the cornerstone Canadian players from the past decade retiring recently post-Tokyo Olympics, the mantle has fallen to the young Island players and others at the team’s Langford base.

“The new guys are so hungry and their talent level is so high,” said Thiel, one of only three returnees from the quarter-­finalist Tokyo Olympics team to suit up for Canada at B.C. Place and Edmonton.

“The Pacific Pride [Langford-based national U-23 team] has done a great job of feeding these guys into the senior program. We are going to have the kind of depth we’ve never had before.”

Twelve men’s teams, minus several of the marquee nations due to COVID travel restrictions, will contest the Edmonton tournament. Only half the lower bowl of Commonwealth Stadium, about 16,000 seats, will be open due to health restrictions.

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