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Former All Blacks star seeks to spur Canada to glory.

Dubai: AaFormer All Blacks star Kieran Crowley admits he is facing up to "a few challenges" as the head coach of Canada's national team.

The 35-times capped full-back and ex-national selector is in Dubai assisting Canada sevens coach Shane Thompson and running the rule over players likely to be involved in his adopted country's World Cup qualification campaign which gets underway in the summer.

And he says that plenty of work is needed if Canada are to start moving up the world rankings and retrieving ground which has been lost in recent seasons.

Crowley, who was appointed almost a year ago, said: "We're looking at putting a couple of things in place to bridge the gap that exists ... we don't have a professional league so our guys step up from club rugby to a stage like this.

"The sevens programme is very important but we've lost our core status as a [World Series] sevens team. And we need as many games as possible at this level."

The sheer size of Canada also does not help the rugby community. "I thought I had a grip on it," said Crowley was last in Dubai as coach of New Zealand for the Under-19 World Championship in 2006. "But I went on a tour in my first month, and flew five hours from Victoria to Toronto which is only halfway across. Rugby has different seasons on either sides of the country, and bringing players together for camps is hugely expensive.

"It makes rugby a little fractured but it's a case of doing the best with what we have got. Can we get there? It will take a lot of hard work, for players and coaches, and we need to look outside of Canada a bit, see where other countries are being successful and have a thirst for knowledge."

Crowley will soon begin preparing for 15s internationals against Ireland, Wales and Georgia ahead of home and away World Cup qualification games against neighbours and great rivals the United States.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 7, 2009
Words:350
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