No one has ever accused Rock forward Frank Walsh of giving up, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that, at 34, he still has visions of playing for Canada in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
With that in mind, Walsh moved to Vancouver in January and worked out at the national team training centre for four months while playing with the Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers in the B.C. league.
Walsh, along with fellow Newfoundlanders Ken Goodland and Ciaran Hearn, helped the Wanderers win the league title for the first time since 2002, when Walsh also happened to be with the team.
On schedule to play his longest rugby season, Walsh played 13 games while in British Columbia, which is an entire season and more in this province.
“I wanted to train, increase my size and hopefully increase my chances of making Canada’s team,” said the gritty prop, who also feels he still has more to learn about the game even after 20 seasons.
Though not necessarily old for a prop, Walsh who was the provincial male athlete of the year for 2008, realizes this is probably his last shot at making a World Cup team.
Walsh will be in the starting lineup when The Rock takes on Salta Province of Argentina six o’clock tonight at the Swilers Complex in St. John’s.
“I wanted to train, increase my size and hopefully increase my chances of making Canada’s team.” - Frank Walsh
Walsh has previously played against Argentinian sides at the Churchill Cup and with the Canada Selects in South America, so he knows what to anticipate tonight.
“I expect they will be quicker and tougher than the England Counties team we played last year.
“We’re probably going to have to weather a storm for the first 20 to 30 minutes because I expect them to come after us. It will be fun,” he said with a smile.
Walsh believes The Rock will be up for the challenge tonight despite the fact the team has only two exhibition games under its belt this early in the local rugby season, one of them a win over the Canada Selects in Victoria, B.C.
“I was surprised at how fit The Rock was when they played in B.C. last weekend,” said Walsh.
Walsh wasn’t named to Canada’s Churchill Cup team for the June tournament which is being held in England for the first time since 2007, and includes the England Saxons, Italy A and the United States.
Only three members of The Rock — Ciaran Hearn, Jebb Sinclair, Chauncey O’Toole — were chosen for the Canadian side.