HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)- The U.S. National Rugby League team is gearing up for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, but before making a run at the games, the team made a stop in Hawaii for the "Ohana Cup."
The 11th ranked USA Tomahawks took on the 9th ranked Tonga Mate Ma'a at Kaiser High School on Saturday night. Both teams have qualified for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and are in the midst of perfecting their rosters. Team USA invited several players with Hawaii ties to don the red, white, and blue jerseys and test their skills against the Tongans.
Former University of Hawaii Warrior football standout Leonard Peters was just one of several local boys who hoped to represent their country in next year's World Cup.
"Playing in the World Cup is like playing in the Super Bowl, it's the elite of the elite of the athletes," said Peters. "So I think it would be a great thing, not only for representing my country, USA, but to represent Hawaii."
Having been given just a week's notice, Peters had a chance to play on Team USA for one night against Tonga. Peters hadn't run in eight-months, but it took less than eight-seconds for both the crowd and his opponents to feel his presence.
"I saw Leonard emerge as a guy who we want in the future, its not just the talent, its the culture," said Kelly McGill.
Other local boys trying to make the cut are former UH Warriors Kelly McGill and Tala Esera. Laie native Vai Notoa also made a statement with more than 20 carries on Saturday night. Also in action was former Kalani High School football standout Dusten Umeda and Keiki Misipeka.
"We'll definitely go back and look at the film, see who took advantage of the opportunity, and see who we invite," said McGill.
The U.S. national team is reviewing about 60 players right now. They can only take 22 to the World Cup. Peters says he'll do everything in his power to make the cut. The team has five upcoming "test" games left on their schedule. Following that, their final roster will be posted.
Final score in the "Ohana Cup," USA - 20 - Tonga - 28