Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 with an eye to 2015 - USA´s Taylor Mokate

Mokate pre-match in Houston
Twenty-four year old USA Eagles backrower, Taylor Mokate is a player with a massive future ahead of him. A native of Dallas, Texas Mokate took up rugby after having been recuited by the University of Oklahoma to play American Football. His transition has been highly successful as he has played for the USA All American Under 20 side, the USA Rugby Sevens team and the senior mens team, the USA Eagles. He made his debut for the USA in 2012 against Canada in Kingston, Ontario as a replacement before starting the USA´s other two June internationals against Georgia in Glendale, Colorado and against Italy in Houston, Texas. His debut series for his country was a roaring success and he scored a try against Georgia. Mokate not only took no time to break into the starting lineup but he was also able to instantly leave his mark as a fast backrower and a very physical one. 

While he made his debut for the USA Rugby Sevens team in 2010 he was not able to make it into the squad for Rugby World Cup 2011. The USA has made a good supply of backrowers in recent years with the likes of Todd Clever and Louis Stanfill both being amongst the country´s best performers. The emergence of Scott LaValla has increased belief in the future for the USA. LaValla is a secondrower or backrower, like Stanfill. The 2012 policy of using Stanfill in the secondrow and LaValla in the backrow proved to be highly efficient. Clever´s move from openside flanker to number 8 has proven to have had an highly positive impact as Clever´s game in nowadays is better suited to the position. When Mokate debuted from the bench Clever played 8 with LaValla at 6 and Drew Durtalo at 7. Together with captain Todd Clever and Taylor Mokate the combination performed well at the top level in defeating Georgia. Mokate started at 6 with LaValla playing 7 They played again as a trio against Italy but were unlucky as the USA suffered from having both its centers red carded. 

He had made his debut after having played a season in New Zealand for the Old Boy´s University club in Wellington. But injury prevented him from touring with the USA Eagles last year. Mokate missed the November tour of Europe in which the USA played against Russia and Tonga in Colwyn Bay, Wales and took on Romania in Bucharest. In place of Mokate the USA used debutant John Quill and veteran Peter Dahl in November. Quill was particularly impressive and looms as a genuine option as a fetcher for the USA with LaValla moving into the secondrow with either Stanfill or Samu Manoa. The historical 34-3 awaywin over Romania featured Stanfill and LaValla together locking the scrum and this may, indeed, be in the best interest of the national team. Mokate is signed to the USA Sevens as a professional player  Together with Clever and Quill the USA has a big future with Rugby World Cup 2015 looming as being his time. He will be 26 and could certainly back it up by playing in Japan in 2019. 

The balance that Mokate provides is key. The future is indeed bright for Mokate but so is the present. With the USA set to play in the 2013 Pacific Nations Cup, host Ireland and also play home and away against Canada in July Mokate´s time would appear to be now. The USA has been pushing Canada to the limit in recent years but has fallen short in the end. The series between Canada and the USA this year will be crucial as there is an automatic qualifying spot on the line for Rugby World Cup 2015. The winner on aggregate will qualify for Pool D and face France, Ireland, Italy and Europe 2 (possibly Romania) while the loser will face CONSUR winners (possibly Uruguay) and need to win that to qualify or else face the known in playing repercharge qualification series against qualifying teams from Africa, Asia and Europe. The USA showed in June and November 2012 that it has the players to do the job and should it succeed in toppling the Canadians it will be a team effort with Mokate certain to be highly involved. His tackling and workrate around the park is a valuable asset for the Eagles. 

No comments:

Post a Comment