Ex-Cronulla forward to play for Chile in South American Championships
Former Cronulla Sharks NRL player Daniel Vasquez will become the highest-profile player to participate in a South American Rugby League Championship, when he lines up for Chile on November 25 in Colombia.
Vasquez will be one of seven Australian-based Chileans to feature in the Weichafes squad as they aim to overcome Brazil and Colombia, inching them one step closer to World Cup 2025 qualification.
The winner of the South American Championships will progress to the 2023 Americas Cup in Jamaica, where the aim will be to finish in the top two positions against Jamaica, the USA and Canada.
Brazil is current holder of the South American Championship (2018), although Chile did not compete at that event due to conflicting commitments.
Chile is currently ranked 32nd in the world, Brazil is ranked 40th and Colombia is ranked 45th.
Daniel Vasquez in action for Cronulla in 2020 (NRL Photos)
Aside from Vasquez, Chile will also have the services of the youngest player at the tournament, Canterbury Bankstown junior representative player Christian Lopez, with the 17-year-old receiving special dispensation to play.
Host Colombia has drafted in four overseas-based players in the form of Tampa Mayhem bruiser Andrew Zuluaga, Sacramento Immortals player Ruben Zequeda, Bundaberg-based Sebastian Martinez and Brisbane-based Juan David Espinal.
All players in the Colombian side qualify via birth, aside from Zuluaga, whose grandfather and grandmother were both born in Colombia.
Brazil has enlisted English-based player Nicholas Sydorowitz, who has a Brazilian mother, plus Australian-based duo Ravi Araujo and Donovan Barreira.
Brazilian domestic grand finalists Urutau and Sao Paulo Raiders supply 13 members of the Brazilian squad between them.
Brazil, Chile and Columbia will contest the South American Championships.
The South American Championships will be preceded by a historic technical development program, with Spanish-speaking Andrew Pilkington upskilling 20 visiting officials in refereeing and game education.
Aside from the competing nations, other countries sending delegates for the technical development program are El Salvador and Argentina.
The playing schedule is as follows:
November 25: Chile v Brazil (Game A)
November 26: Colombia v Loser Game A
November 27: Colombia v Winner Game A
The event will be livestreamed, with broadcast details to be shared in coming days.
COLOMBIA SQUAD: Andres Jimenez, Andrew Zuluaga*, Carlos Mendoza, Daniel Medina, David Perez, Fredy Diaz, Hector Linares, Jean Villamil, Jessua Guillot, Jesus Delgado, John Garcia, Juan David Espinal*, Leonardo Delgado, Nelson Parada, Rafael Lopez, Ruben Zequeda*, Sebastian Martinez*, Sebastian Rodger, Victor Alegria, William Martinez
BRAZIL SQUAD: Alyfer Dos Santos, Bruno Gil, Caio Ozzioli, Diego Sanches Nogueira, Donovan Barreira*, Douglas Parazi, Fellipe Dittz, Gabriel Saraiva, Leandro Caetano, Lucas Domingues, Luis Bussolo, Marcos Paixao, Nicholas Sydorowitz*, Ravi Araujo*, Victor Domingues, Vinicius Parazi, Zach Grundy.
CHILE SQUAD: Austin Ekes Olivares*, Christian Lopez*, Daniel Polanco, Daniel Vasquez*, Diego Quintul, Felipe Aedo, Ferec Cabezas, Ignacio Altamirano, Jaime Santander, James Horvat*, Javier Aedo, Juan Ortiz, Mana Castillo Sioni*, Moises Rojas, Nick Doberer*, Taylor Salas, Thomas Garrido*, Zecil Yao.
*Denotes non-domestic player