Reaching the next level

Prince Albert Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons players Elijah McPherson, Connor Elfinstone and Thayne Clarke (from left) will represent the province at the Canadian Rugby U16 Men’s Championship in Calgary from Aug. 15-20. (Josef Jacobson/Daily Herald)

Three P.A. rugby players to travel to Calgary for U16 nationals

Elijah McPherson, Connor Elfinsone and Thayne Clarke weren’t expecting to find themselves representing their province at a national event so soon into their rugby careers.

McPherson and Elfinsone only started playing for the Prince Albert Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons in April and Clarke joined the team last year. Early last month it was announced that Elfinstone and Clarke made the roster for the provincial U16 team that will compete at the Canadian Rugby Championship in Calgary from Aug. 15-20. McPherson missed the fist cut, but last Friday Team Saskatchewan adjusted its lineup and asked him to join the team.

“It was the greatest feeling ever. I’ve never gotten this far in a sport and putting everything into it really paid off in the end,” McPherson said of making the team.

“I actually was pretty surprised because I wasn’t expecting to go so far in my first year,” Elfinstone added.

“It’s only my second year playing the game and its been a pretty good experience so far for all of us getting this far,” Clarke said.

The local trio said the competition was stiff at Team Saskatchewan selection camp. The Dragons mostly play teams from Saskatoon and McPherson said it was a “wake-up” call to see athletes from across the province.

“Everybody who showed up was there to play, they weren’t there just to mess around. So you really had to put it all in,” he said.

Elfinstone added that he felt like he had to “step up his game.”

“It was very serious because you’re doing cuts and not everyone was making the team,” he said.

“It’s not just one game every week,” Clarke explained.

“It was three games in one day and then an hour game the next right in the morning, so it was pretty tough for all of us.”

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