THE might of the Americas will join forces in Sydney this Saturday, as USA World Cup fullback Kristian Freed fills a special guest role for Cabramatta International Nines rugby league debutants the Latin Heat.
Just a few months after tackling world champions Australia in Wales, Freed has been brought on board to cover a handful of late withdrawals for the GYG Latin Heat.
While the Latin Heat exists primarily to give opportunity to those of South and Central American heritage, the unavailability of previous fullback Carlos Astorga Gonzalez (family reasons) has opened the opportunity to strengthen ties with the Tomahawks.
“The USA Tomahawks have been big supporters of the GYG Latin Heat since the outset and we see great potential in attracting Latino-heritage players in North America over coming months,” said Heat coach Rob Burgin.
“While Kristian is not of Latino extraction himself, he’s a big fan of spreading the game globally and will help us put a spotlight on the team and what we hope to achieve.
“We were caught in a tight spot for depth at fullback and we’re extremely thankful to have a guy of Kristian’s experience assisting our raw and developing squad.”
The GYG Latin Heat had initially left one spot in their 15-man squad open to select a guest player and had earmarked Brazilian native and South Sydney Rabbitohs wrestling coach Marco ‘Gigante’ Villela for a cameo role.
However work commitments for Villela and that of interchange forward Alex Moreno, along with Gonzalez’s withdrawal, have forced a reshuffle.
Aside from the addition of fleet-footed Freed at fullback, the Heat will trial new and interested players at Cabramatta Stadium (Sussex Rd) in Sydney from 5.45pm Friday.
The last two squad positions remain undecided.
“We know there are enough players out there eligible for Latin America, it’s just a matter of them hearing about the team and putting their hand up to support the concept,” said Burgin.
“All it requires is them, a parent or grandparent being born in any of the mainland Central and South American countries, including Mexico, or the Latino nations of the Caribbean – Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba and Dominican Republic.
“We are hearing from many Latinos overseas of their willingness to partake and we’ve identified more than 50 senior players in Australia, but for financial reasons and other various circumstances, commitment has been hard to come by.
“I’m extremely sure though that the GYG Latin Heat is at the start of something big and the players this weekend against Portugal, Japan and the Philippines will be extremely pleased with the legacy they have helped forge.”
Aside from naming rights sponsor Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, the Latin Heat is supported by Crop del Monte Coffee Specialists, Rumba Latina Entertainment, Link Australia Education and Service Centres, Samba Times, and Gringo TV & Magazine.
GYG LATIN HEAT Squad for Cabramatta Nines
Saturday Feb 1, Cabramatta Stadium
9.45 am v Portugal / 11.05am v Philippines / 12.45pm v Japan
1. Kristian Freed (USA – Guest)
2. Fernando Villegas (Colombia)
3. Mayer Flamenco (Panama)
4. Kris Vieira (Uruguay)
5. Diego Santiago (Colombia)
6. Jye Sommers (Peru)
7. Marco Pereira (El Salvador)
8. Sebastian Maya Jimenez (Colombia)
9. Eric Orellana (El Salvador)
10. Jaden Laing (Chile)
11. Josh Gadea-Hellyer (Uruguay)
12. Juan Espinal (Colombia)
13. Michael Falcon (Uruguay)
Coaches: Robert Burgin and Ernie Tobar (Chile)