Latin America and the Philippines will usher in the 2015 rugby league season with the return bout of The Magellan Trophy at Brisbane’s Bishop Park this Saturday.
After narrowly scraping together enough players in their international debut against the Filipino Tamaraws last January, the GYG Latin Heat are hell-bent on showing how quickly the 13-man game has engaged the Latino community.
Indeed, Latin America will field three teams (senior, development and youth) this time around, representing 24 heritages from non-traditional league backgrounds including El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador.
Members of the team visited Broncos’ training last week, where captain Johnathan Espinoza – of Nicaraguan and Chilean heritage – took some tips from international Sam Thaiday.
Corey Parker, Daniel Vidot, Alex Glenn, Adam Blair, Travis Waddell and even coach Wayne Bennett stopped to chat to the Latin American and Filipino players.
After being soundly spanked 114-0 by Asia Cup champions the Philippines on debut, Latin America has gone on to defeat Portugal and Japan, while also drawing with Thailand and being competitive in losses to the USA and Greece.
More pleasing though have been the victories away from the field, encouraging Mexico to stage its first rugby league tournaments and commencing discussions for domestic competitions in a number of Latin American nations.
By February it is anticipated that both Chile and El Salvador will be prepared for their first appearance at the International Nines in Sydney, with Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay only a handful of players away from joining them.
Final trials for all Australian-based players of Latin American heritage were held last week.
Latin American Rugby League welcomes nominations from players of all abilities in all locations with verifiable heritage in the following South and Central American nations: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.
To achieve its objectives of spreading the game far and wide, the not-for-profit Latin Heat also welcomes both uniform sponsors and partners interested in development programs in Latino communities.
MAGELLAN TROPHY 2015 – Sat Jan 17, Bishop Park, Nundah
4pm – Youth Game – United Nations (Latin America/Africa) v Philippines.
5.10pm – Men’s Development – Latin America v Philippines
6.30pm – Bundaberg Indigenous Wellbeing XIII v QLD Maori
8pm – International – GYG Latin Heat v PAL Philippines Tamaraws