Decimated by injury to their all-important Canadian talent, Hamilton Tiger-Cats added five national players to their roster on Wednesday.
They include defensive lineman Ben D’Aguilar, a former Vanier Cup winner with the McMaster Marauders, linebackers Frank Renaud and Akeem Whonder, defensive back Tristan Doughlin and receiver Mitchell Baines. The team has also signed international wide receiver/kick returner Willie Quinn.
The moves come after Ticats lost three more Canadians during their 24-22 win over Toronto on Monday: receiver Giovanni Aprile as well as national running backs Mercer Timmis and Sean Thomas-Erlington have been added to the six-game injured list. Aprile was starting while Timmis was playing a valuable rotational role.
Additionally, Canadian safety Courtney Stephen missed practice on Wednesday and his status is unknown for Saturday’s crucial match up against the Ottawa Redblacks.
The losses are just the latest in a series of injuries that have robbed the team of much of its Canadian talent and depth, including all-star defensive tackle Ted Laurent. Of the 14 players currently on the team’s six-game injured list, eight are Canadian and five have started at some point this season. Two others, including Timmis and linebacker Nick Shortill, were significant contributors as well.
That list doesn’t include receiver Andy Fantuz, who is currently in a coaching role while recovering from a knee injury suffered last season, or safety Craig Butler who retired to join the coaching ranks last week.
CFL teams must, by rule, start seven Canadians on offence and defence as well as have 21 nationals on the game day roster: that puts home-grown talent at a premium.
The Ticats have also placed starting SAM linebacker Dominique Ellis on the six-game injured list.