Wednesday, November 5, 2014

International Rugby: Changed USA team named to face Romania

Photo USA Rugby
USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has named a much changed side for the USA's second test of the month. Eight changes have been made as seven foreign based players having returned to their clubs and the team also having suffered injuries against New Zealand in Chicago. The test is to mark the 50th time that Lou Stanfill has been capped by his country. The Californian veteran of two Rugby World Cups is one of five starting players that were on the bench against the All Blacks. Together with captain Todd Clever Stanfill is to be a key leader. The last test between the countries saw the USA winning 34-3 in 2012. 

The test match at Chicago's Soldier Field this past Saturday underlined the need to rethink scheduling as an unprepared USA Eagles side had players arriving just four days before the match. There was little time for the coaching staff to prepare combinations or instill a game plan and Tolkin has since lost close to half of the starting lineup for the remainder of the tour. 

Without names such as Blaine Scully, Chris Wyles, Eric Fry, Cam Dolan, Samu Manoa and Hayden Smith the USA Eagles' depth is to be extremely tested. In years gone by a lack of options to replace the leading players has seen the North Americans caught short. Tolkin will now be able to evaluate who are the best domestic based players to join the professionals in the squad for Rugby World Cup 2015. 

The loss of Manoa and Smith sees Tai Tuisamoa and Lou Stanfill starting in the second-row. Both are players with experience playing professional rugby. They will play behind a front-row of Nick Wallace, Phil Thiel and Olive Kilifi. All five are likely to be named in the squad to play in England 2015. 

Behind them less is certain aside from captain Todd Clever who will again play at blindside flanker. Joining him will be John Quill and Matt Trouville, the latter of which is to make his test debut. Trouville fills in for Danny Barrett who broke his band in the 6th minute at Soldier Field. Regular starting number 8 Cam Dolan missed through injury and is unable to play against Romania, Tonga or Fiji due to being contracted to Northampton.

Mike Petri retains his place as Tolkin's number one scrumhalf and he will again be joined by Adam Siddall who is to be the goalkicker from fly half.Andrew Suniula and Seamus Kelly have been retained as the starting mid-fielders but out wide it is all change as Scully and Wyles have returned to England and Brett Thompson has been forced out of the fixture through injury. 

Regular replacement centre Folau Niua replaces Wyles at fullback while Tim Stanfill will get an opportunity in place of Thompson. The most notable selection, however, would appear to be that of Taku Ngwenya returning to the team for the first time in over a year to fill the void left by Scully. The Biarritz speedster has been reported as having a make-or-break opportunity at playing in a third Rugby World Cup. 

The bench features few players to have been regulars under Tolkin. Tom Coolican is to be the replacement hooker with Benjamin Tarr and Mate Moeakiola being the reserve props. Greg Peterson gets an opportunity for game time as he covers Stanfill and Tuisamoa while the inclusion of both John Cullen and Kyle Sumsion, who debuted against Uruguay earlier in the year, offer a lot of replacement options. 

Tolkin's bench sees only two backs with Shalom and Roland Suniula having a chance at earning one further cap each together with their brother Andrew. Shalom will be covering Petri and possibly Siddall while Roland is a utility capable of playing anywhere required outside of scrumhalf. 

The match will kick-off at 11:30am ET on Satuday and a live stream will be available here.

Nick Wallace
Phil Thiel
Olive Kilifi
Tai Tuisamoa
Lou Stanfill
Todd Clever
John Quill
Matt Trouville
Mike Petri
Adam Siddall
Tim Stanfill
Andrew Suniula
Seamus Kelly
Taku Ngwenya
Folau Niua
Tom Coolican
Benjamin Tarr
Mate Moeakiola
Greg Peterson
John Cullen
Kyle Sumsion
Shalom Suniula
Roland Suniula

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