Canada coach Kingsley Jones isn't about to let his team rest on its laurels in the wake of a lopsided 65-19 win over Kenya to open the Rugby World Cup repechage tournament.
"It's a good start but our challenge is humility now," Jones said from Marseille, France. "We need to be humble and keep working hard ... We need to be ready to go again because we face another challenge Saturday (against Germany) — a different type of challenge and a big challenge."
"When I talk about humility, there's a lot to it," Jones added. "It's about buying into what a team's doing. It's about playing for the team not for themselves. It's about the team being the star here — there's no star in this team, we don't want that. We want a team that's the star."
It's also about keeping an eye on the prize. Jones believes his team may have underestimated Uruguay in the last qualifying round.
Millions of dollars are at stake at the four-team repechage. Rugby Canada has said missing out on the World Cup — for the first time ever — could hit its bottom line to the tune of $10 million with World Rugby funding going elsewhere.
The round-robin winner will slot into Group B at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan alongside top-ranked New Zealand, No. 5 Australia, No. 13 Italy and No. 22 Namibia.
Saturday's match against Germany, which defeated Hong Kong 26-9 in its repechage opener, could go a long way to deciding the round-robin tournament. And it could settle the matter, with a little help from the other game between Hong Kong and Kenya
Canada tops the standings with five points after picking up a bonus point for scoring four-plus tries against Kenya. The Germans have four points.
If Canada can post a bonus-point win over Germany while denying the Germans a bonus point (teams that lose by fewer than eight points get one), it will emerge from the weekend with 10 points with one game remaining. Germany, in contrast, could finish with no more than nine points.
And if the winner of the Hong Kong-Kenya game fails to get a bonus point, it could finish no higher than nine points.
"We're not talking about that all," said Jones, a former Wales captain. "We've got to be concerned with Germany and then we've got to beat Hong Kong. There's so many uncontrollables involved in that conversation it's not even worth thinking about."
In the event of a tie between two teams, the winner in the match between the two is the first tiebreaker.
The Kenya shellacking moved Canada up two places in the World Rugby rankings to No. 21 while Germany climbed three rungs to No. 26. Hong Kong fell three spots to No. 24 and Kenya slipped one spot to No. 29.
Jones knows many of the German players from his time as coach of Russia.
"They're a real strong physical side with a big set-piece and driving game," he said.
While Kenya featured threats in its backline, its forwards were overpowered by the big Canadian forwards. The African defence was also spotty.
Germany should present more well-rounded opposition with Jones noting the strength of the German bench.
The Germans are coached by Mike Ford, the former England defence coach who previously led Leicester, Bath and Toulon. He took over in September, inheriting a diverse roster that includes a cable-car driver and bouncer.
Fly half Raynor Parkinson is a South African-born British citizen who qualifies for Germany through his grandmother. Parkinson is Germany's all-time leading points-scorer with 310 from 31 internationals.
Wearing a makeshift mask to protect a facial cut, he kicked 15 points in the win over Hong Kong.
Jones has made four changes to the team that beat Kenya.
Prop Matt Tierney, lock Mike Sheppard, flanker Lucas Rumball and centre Ciaran Hearn move into the starting 15 while Jake Ilnicki, Brett Beukeboom, Matt Heaton and Nick Blevins shift to the bench.
Sheppard scored off the bench last weekend in his test debut. Prop Hubert Buydens is set to win his 49th cap Saturday.
The repechage wraps up Nov. 23 when Canada faces Hong Kong and Germany tackles Kenya.
Canada dropped into the repechage after losing qualifying series against the 15th-ranked U.S. Eagles (80-44 on aggregate) and No. 18 Uruguay (70-60 on aggregate).
"We're here for a reason," said Jones. "We haven't qualified yet because we haven't been good enough."
Germany landed in the repechage after losing a playoff to Samoa, which moved into Pool A at the World Cup. The Germans ended up in that Europe versus Oceania playoff after Rugby Europe Championship winners Romania and runner-up Spain were disqualified for breaching player eligibility laws.
While rugby is still an emerging sport in Germany, it has benefited from the largesse of billionaire Hans-Peter Wild, although the Swiss-born businessman briefly pulled his backing after a dispute with the Germany governing body last year.
Wild owns French club side Stade Francais and set up a rugby academy in Heidelberg, Germany.
Hubert Buydens, NOLA Gold (MLR), Saskatoon; Ray Barkwill, Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Niagara Falls, Ont.; Matt Tierney, Pau (France), Oakville, Ont.; Mike Sheppard, Stoney Creek Camels, Brampton, Ont.; Evan Olmstead, Auckland (New Zealand) Vancouver; Kyle Baillie, Westshore RFC, Summerside, P.E.I.; Lucas Rumball, Balmy Beach RFC, Mississauga, Ont.; Tyler Ardron, Chiefs (New Zealand), Lakefield, Ont.; Phil Mac (capt.), Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Victoria; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; DTH van der Merwe, Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), Victoria; Ciaran Hearn, London Irish (England), Conception Bay South, N.L.; Ben LeSage, UBC Thunderbirds, Calgary; Matt Evans, Cornish Pirates (England), Maple Bay, B.C.; Theo Sauder, UBC Thunderbirds, Vancouver.
Eric Howard, NOLA Gold (MLR), Ottawa; Djustice Sears-Duru, unattached, Oakville, Ont.; Jake Ilnicki, Yorkshire Carnegie (England), Williams Lake, B.C.; Brett Beukeboom, Cornish Pirates (England), Lindsay, Ont.; Matt Heaton, Darlington Mowden Park (England), Godmanchester, Que.; Jamie Mackenzie, Balmy Beach, Oakville, Ont.; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Conor Trainor, USON Nevers (France), Vancouver.
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