WREXHAM, Wales – They’ve come from all walks of life to play for the United States in their first Rugby League World Cup.
The team includes a roofer, carpenter and surveyor – even a $10-an-hour dog walker.
Staying true to their pre-tournament motto of “Shock The World,” the upstart Americans – nicknamed the Tomahawks – followed a warm-up win over France by beating Wales and the Cook Islands.
Next up is tournament-favorite Australia in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“For some of us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said center Taylor Welch, one of the U.S. amateur players. “And for us to get a chance to play against people like Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, and all these great Australia players, it’s just humbling.”
The U.S. team is the only group of unpaid players in the 14-team tournament. That’s why the dog walking came in handy.
“When I was in Chicago doing a bit of training, I had to do other work to get some extra cash,” Welch told The Associated Press on Wednesday after training in Wales. “One of my friends over there, he owns a dog-walking company, so I’ve been helping him out. You have to do what you can.”