Sunday, March 16, 2014

RWC Qualifier: Strong USA Squad named for Montevideo trip

Photo Mid South Rugby Referee Soc.
USA Eagles headcoach Mike Tolkin has named a strong squad including many foreign based players for the first test against Uruguay next Saturday. Uruguay will host the USA at the Estadio Charrua in Montevideo in the first of two Rugby World Cup Qualifiers between the countries. The winner on aggregate will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Americas two and enter Pool B which also includes South Africa, Samoa and Scotland. The fifth team will be a qualifier from Asia with Japan being the odds on favorite.

Named in the twenty-six man squad are players based in England, France, Japan and Scotland. Captain Todd Clever is included as are all of Cameron Dolan, Eric Fry, Luke Hume, Scott LaValla, Titi Lamositele, Toby L´Estrange, Samu Manoa, Folau Niua, Blaine Scully, Robbie Shaw, Andrew Suniula and Chris Wyles. As such the bulk of the starting lineup is expected to be made up of professional players and a number of whom are getting regular game time at the elite level in either the Aviva Premiership or Top 14.

The team cannot be said to be at full strength though. Biarritz winger and long term USA Eagles right winger Taku Ngwenya has not been named in the squad. Ngwenya missed the November wins over Georgia and Russia last November due to Biarritz having requested that he not play due to the club struggling to perform in the Top 14. Between now and then nothing has changes as Biarritz is one loss away from being relegated and Ngwenya will miss out on earning caps against Los Teros. 

Aside from Ngwenya all players have been made available including former New York Jet Hayden Smith who returned to rugby this season to his former club, Saracens. Smith last played a rugby match for the USA in Rugby World Cup 2011. He started in all four matches for the USA Eagles in New Zealand. He formed a respectable second-row combination with John van der Giessen who retired from rugby after the World Cup. 

In place of Smith and van der Giessen Tolkin has experimented greatly and has used back-rowers in the second-row with LaValla, Manoa and Lous Stanfill filling the void and doing so with distinction as converted back-rowers. Smith should be involved against Uruguay either in combination with either Stanfill or Manoa or on the bench. Maoa is highly likely to be starting in the 4 shirt with Clever being joined by Dolan and LaValla in the back-row. 

Also included in the squad are fresh faces with three uncapped players - Tom Coolican, Miles Craigwell and Shalom Suniula. They are joined by Olive Kilifi and Kyle Sumsion who are are yet to start a test match for the USA Eagles. Kilifi debuted from the bench against Georgia in November while Sumision was involved in the non-capped match against the Maori All Blacks. in Philadelphia.

USA Eagles
Todd Clever - NTT Shining Arcs 
Tom Coolican - Richmond RFC 
Miles Craigwell - Seattle-OPSB 
Cameron Dolan - Northampton FC 
Eric Fry - London Scottish RFC 
Luke Hume - Narbonne 
Seamus Kelly - University of California 
Olive Kilifi - Seattle-OPSB 
Titi Lamositele - Saracens RFC 
Scott LaValla - Stade Francais 
Toby L'Estrange - London Welsh RFC 
Samu Manoa - Northampton FC 
Tim Maupin - Olympic Club 
Folau Niua - Glasgow Warriors 
Mike Petri - New York Athletic Club 
Blaine Scully - Leicester Tigers RFC 
Robbie Shaw - London Scottish RFC 
Hayden Smith - Saracens RFC 
Louis Stanfill - Seattle-OPSB 
Kyle Sumsion - Brigham Young University Rugby 
Andrew Suniula - London Wasps RFC 
Shalom Suniula - Seattle-OPSB 
Phil Thiel - Life Rugby 
Tai Tuisamoa - Old Mission Beach Athletic Club 
Nick Wallace - James Bay RFC 
Chris Wyles - Saracens RFC

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