The Boston 13s are heavy favorites going into the USARL Championship Final this Saturday in Jacksonville against the Atlanta Rhinos.
By Julian Clarkstone
Disposing easily of last year Champions – Philadelphia Fight two weeks ago, the team, led by Coach Robin Peers, have every right to be confident in the lead up to this epic clash.
It is well known that a key strength of Boston is that many of their players have been with them for several years, eight of which were there in 2012 when they lost the Championship Final. Despite this, several news players have joined their team over the past season and have added an extra dimension to the team’s skill set. Urban Iyo (winger), Mike Elias (second row) and Derek Morin (utility) have joined the Boston 13s over the last season and they have seamlessly fit into a team with some experienced campaigners.
Of the three new players, Mike Elias is the only one with previous rugby league experience, playing in the Lebanese league and representing the Lebanese Cedars at an international level. Elias was born and raised in Massachusetts and attended university at the University of Balamand in Lebanon, where he was introduced to rugby league. A great bonus of having Elias in their team is because of his experience in finals matches, having previously played for the University of Balamand Razorbacks and the Tripoli City Kings in Lebanon
“I have had some playoff experience. The Razorbacks and the Kings won the Lebanese Rugby League tournament and the CRL (Collegiate Rugby League) Championship,” Elias said.
Urban Iyo is a 21 year old from Hawaii who is playing his first season of rugby league. He has been a revelation for Boston, and has been rewarded with selection in the USARL Hawks 35 man Pre-select squad. He has ambitions to play in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition in Australia and Coach Peers has plenty of praise for the young winger.
“He’s been a scoring sensation for the 13s this year, scoring 10 tries in 6 games. He is lightning fast and has toughness to boot,” Peers exclaimed.
Iyo is excited going into his first Championship Final and feels as though his team have been building towards this match.
“I feel extremely confident, seeing our team grow and get into a rhythm makes me feel like we are an unstoppable force,” Iyo stated.
Despite being in his first season of rugby league, Derek Morin has had plenty of experience playing rugby union, so he has transferred his skills across to the more exciting 13 man code. He has played in several positions for the Boston 13s, spending time at center, lock, prop and in the second row. It has taken some time for Morin to become accustomed to a game without line-outs, but his coach has been very happy with his development as a rugby league player.
“Derek has done everything I’ve asked of him during his first rugby league season. He has got a lot of potential and could be a future international once he gains more experience,” Peers said.
Morin has been happy with his form the past few rounds, and just like his team mates, is confident ahead of the Championship Final.
“I believe the squad is ready to go. The waiting is tough but I have a feeling that when we get to Logan it is going to make it a bit more real,” Morin stated.
Whilst Boston will be looking to the likes of Dustin Cooper and Marcos Flegmann as their senior players on Saturday, they will take confidence out of the fact that their less senior players have plenty of talent and have been improving all year. The Boston 13s will need Mike Elias, Urban Iyo and Derek Morin playing at their best on Saturday in order to give themselves every chance possible to defeat the Atlanta Rhinos.
NORTH VS SOUTH ALL STAR MATCH @5PM
— PLUS —
USARL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – Boston 13s vs Atlanta Rhinos @7PM
- Early Bird Tickets Until 6:00pm on Wednesday August 26. (CLICK HERE)
- Discount Hotel Rates can also be found on the ticket page
- BEST ENTRY is the North side of UNF Campus and park in LOT 18
- August 29, 4:30pm Gates Open
- $10 walk-up entry / $15 Chop Zone seating with in-seat concessions service
- Kids 13 and Under are FREE
- Full Concessions available on site
- Team Merchandise will be sold onsite during the event
- 5:00pm North vs. South All Star Game
- 6:50pm National Championship Pre-game starts
- 7:00pm Kickoff to the USA Rugby League National Championship Game
- 8:45pm post game presentations
- 9:00pm Post Game Social with players for all four teams at TIME OUT SPORTS GRILL on Beach Blvd.