Mike Tolkin will put out an experienced lineup this Saturday against Canada (thanks again Mike!) as the team will feature only one player—Adam Siddall—without a cap to their name. As always Todd Clever will captain the team. Entrenched props Shawn Pittman and Eric Fry will both get the starting nod while Zach Fenoglio will fill in at hooker. With Chris Biller injured there had been some questions as to who would be the replacement hook at it seems Fenoglio had won that position. Brian Doyle and Lou Stanfill will return as locks. Both worked extremely well together throughout 2012. Joining Clever in the back row is John Quill and Peter Dahl, both of whom were with the Eagles in the fall.
In the backs Robbie Shaw and Toby L’Estrange will look to work well together once again. They had great rapport with one another last fall in Europe. James Paterson returns from a spell on the bench to slide in at wing. Luke Hume will play on the other wing. In the centers Andrew Suniula claims his usual insider center position while Troy Hall, the oldest member of the team at 31, takes the outside center position. New cap Adam Siddall will lineup at full back.
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According to the IRB, the average age in the starting lineup is 27 while the number of caps in the starting lineup is 174. Also of note to the squad, Mike MacDonald is not listed in the replacements.
Overall this is the most experienced lineup Tolkin could have put out on the field. The back row looks particularly dangerous and could give Canada’s back row a bit of trouble. As we said, Stanfill and Doyle have worked well together in the past. Both are good defensively but also have a bit of spark on offense. Pittman and Fy continue to improve as well. The pair of Shaw and L’Estrange should help the U.S. offense run smoothly.
The biggest question marks for the team surround hooker and the backs. Fenoglio only has one substitute cap to his name. He is going to face his biggest challenge yet in terms of scrum work and lineouts. The pressure will be on to do enough not to be considered a weak spot on the team. Paterson and Hume have experience on the wings but both will have to make the adjustments to fifteens. Suniula and Hall have not worked together before.
Still, with the experience the U.S. has over the pitch they should be able to come together as a cohesive unit. Canada will be a stern test but they are also missing a number of players and could be primed for the taking. Having a core group of guys should have the U.S. find their footing early.
Forwards: Shawn Pittman, Zach Fenoglio, Eric Fry, John Quill, Brian Doyle, Lou Stanfill, Peter Dahl, Todd Clever
Backs: Robbie Shaw, Toby L’Estrange, James Paterson, Andrew Suniula, Troy Hall, Luke Hume, Adam Siddall
Replacements: Tom Coolican, Phil Thiel, Nick Wallace, Graham Harriman, Liam Murphy, Chris Saint, Seamus Kelly, Blaine Scully