In a team of accomplished international representatives, it is the feats of 17-year-old utility Juan Casanova Campina which has given Brasil a kick ahead of Saturday’s rugby league duel with Peru.
Casanova Campina has been named in coach Matt Gardner’s final squad to face the Peruvians at Hillier Oval, Liverpool in Western Sydney at 5pm this Saturday (Feb 22).
In an added boost, he was also recently named in the Toowoomba Clydesdales Under 18 representative side, a fantastic accomplishment for a boy born in remote Aquidauana.
Aquidauana is right on the edge of the Pantanal, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s largest tropical wetland area, close to Brasil’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia.
Meanwhile, the Toowoomba Clydsdales are one of the most famous and traditional identities in rugby league, producing numerous past champions of the sport, including Wayne Bennett, Duncan Thompson and Sam Thaiday.
Casanova Campina has qualified for the Toowoomba side after spending a large portion of his upbringing on the Darling Downs, where he plays for the Oakey Bears.
Close family friends Hector and Heitor Hilberto, who also migrated from Brasil to the Darling Downs region and grew up playing rugby league, have also been selected in the Brazilian team.
“To be picked to play for Brasil and then for Toowoomba on consecutive weeks is two dreams coming true,” said Casanova Campina.
“It’s the first time playing for Brasil in 13-a-side, after representing them in nines late last year, and also my very first time making a Toowoomba representative side.”
Brazilian co-coach’s Gardner and Robert Burgin also have ties to the Darling Downs region, with Gardner playing one season for Goondiwindi, and Burgin spending his formative years at Harlaxton.
Former Super League veteran Gardner is one of several players in the side to have already represented Brasil in rugby union.
In an amazing feat, playmaker Lucas Vinas Vieira, who has played every game for Brasil in rugby league since 2017, is taking a 45-hour journey from his hometown of Maringa to arrive in Sydney for the clash.
Among the newcomers in the squad is Ravi Araujo, one of five players in the team with links to the north-eastern coastal city of Recife, and previously a union sevens speedster.
BRASIL SQUAD (Alphabetic order)
DE ARAUJO, Simon
DE FREITAS DOS SANTOS, Leonardo
VINAS VIEIRA, Lucas
For further match details and updates for the Brasil v Peru men’s game on February 22, please follow the Facebook event page.
Hillier Oval, Liverpool, NSW
2pm Latin America v Malta (Under 16)
3.30pm Latin America v Malta (Under 19)
4.45pm Latin American cultural performances
5pm Brasil v Peru (Men)
Brasil Rugby League is supported by Samba Times Digital Media, Tagarela Intercambios, KCTT Engineering and LoxtonBerg.com.
Latin American Rugby League is supported by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, SHIELD Security and Dr Pickles Tattoo Aftercare.
Peru Rugby League is supported by SHIELD Security, Rugby League: Around The Grounds, ATIC Tax Agents, Beastwear and Fresco Marketplace.