Canada drop Pritchard for rugby World Cup

Australian-born fullback James Pritchard, Canada’s all-time leading point-scorer, has been left off their provisional 35-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The 36-year-old Pritchard became the 20th player to reach 600 points in Tests with a 10-point performance in a 21-20 loss to Samoa last week in Toronto.

Formerly of the Randwick club in Sydney, Pritchard also took over as Canada captain when Tyler Ardron was forced off with an injury.

Pritchard, who plays for Bedford Blues in England, has earned 61 caps since 2003, and played in the last three World Cups.

But coach Kieran Crowley has other kicking options in Gord McRorie, Liam Underwood, and Connor Braid, with Matt Evans and Harry Jones offering more versatile options at fullback.

Crowley named an expanded 35-man squad on Thursday due to injury question-marks concerning forwards Jamie Cudmore (concussion), Jebb Sinclair (knee), and Jason Marshall (knee), and back Taylor Paris (groin). The final squad of 31 will be announced on Aug. 31.

All four of those players are expected to join up with Canada for a five-day camp starting on Tuesday in Ottawa.

Ardron (knee) and winger DTH van der Merwe (thumb) were hurt during the Pacific Nations Cup but are expected to recover in time.

The Canadians lost all four of their matches in the Pacific Nations Cup, including last-gasp losses to Samoa and the United States. Pritchard started in just one of those four matches.

Canada has two more warm-up matches before the final squad is picked, against the US on August 22 in Ottawa, and Glasgow Warriors on August 29 in Halifax.

Canada opens play at the World Cup on September 19 against Ireland in Cardiff.

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