Monday, October 28, 2013

U.S.A. Rugby Announces Eagles Fall Tour Squad

Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has picked his squad for this team's three matches against the Maori All Blacks, Georgia, and Russia. By and large the team remains unchanged from the World Cup qualifying series against Canada. Todd Clever returns to the captain the side while overseas stalwarts like Scott LaValla, Samu Manoa, Chris Wyles, and Blaine Scully will all play. The most notable names missing from the team are Taku Ngwenya and Chris Biller. With Biarritz struggling and so many young players earning a chance to show what they can do, Tolkin wanted the opportunity to test some of those players in a tough environment. Ngwenya will be ready in March for the World Cup qualifying series against Uruguay. 14 players from the Americas Rugby Championship are on the roster, including standouts Cam Dolan, Shaun Davies, Time Maupin, Joe Cowley, and Nick Wallace.

Because the team is playing one match in the U.S. and then the rest in Europe, there will be some juggling on the roster. Some players will only play in the U.S. leg while others will only play in Europe. One of those players is Tai Tuisamoa, who will play against the Maori and possibly Russia but not Georgia. Manoa, Scully, and Wyles will only be available for the Europe matches. At scrumhalf Mike Petri will be available for the Maori and Georgia while Robbie Shaw will come in for Russia.

Take the jump to read more.
Up front Blake Burdette returns to an Eagles jersey while Patrick Latu will get his first opportunity. They will be joined by Shawn Pittman, Titi Lamositele, Nick Wallace, and Eric Fry. Latu will only be available in Philadelphia and then will be replaced by Eric Fry. According to Tolkin for the first time in a while he  feels very comfortable playing any of his props. At hooker Phil Thiel takes over the starting role after a strong ARC. He'll be joined by Zach Fenoglio.

The lock combination is a carry over from the ARC with Tuisamoa, Graham Harriman, and John Cullen all being called in. With Tuisamoa being unavailable for the Georgia match it is likely that a player like Scott LaValla may slide down into the position. Brian Doyle and Lou Stanfill both had surgery and were unavailable. Inaki Basauri will provide coverage during the Georgia match.

Back-row returns pretty much unchanged. Clever. LaValla, and Manoa all lead the way. Cam Dolan who was fantastic at the ARC will get an opportunity to take another step up as well. With injuries to players like Liam Murphy and John Quill the position will need some strengthening. That will come in the form of BYU's Kyle Sumison and Derek Asbun. Sumison is expected to be available for the Maori match and possibly some of the time in Europe but not the whole tour. Asbun will play the remaining time.

In the halfbacks, it looks like Mike Petri and Robbie Shaw will split time again. Of course Shaun Davies had a strong ARC and could see significant time as well. Toby L'Estrange returns at fly-half. He did not have a good summer but a solid ARC has earned him a another runout. Zach Pangelinan has been brought in as a fly-half but can play along the backline as well.

Adam Siddall and Folau Niua are listed at center but they can play fly-half. Tolkin also stressed to TIAR that they can play anywhere in the back as well. Andrew Suniula and Seamus Kelly round out the center options.

Finally in the deep three, Luke Hume, who does not have a broken leg contrary to the cited reason for his leaving the RLWC side, Tim Maupin, and Joe Cowley will all be in Philadelphia. They will be joined by Chris Wyles and Blaine Scully once they arrive in Europe.

Forwards: Shawn Pittman, Titi Lamositele, Nick Wallace, Patrick Latu (Philadelphia only), Eric Fry (Europe only), Blake Burdette, Phil Thiel, Zach Fenoglio, Tai Tuisamoa (Philadelphia, Russia, only), Graham Harriman, John Cullen, Inaki Basauri (Georgia only), Kyle Sumison (Philadelphia only), Derek Asbun (Europe only), Cam Dolan, Peter Dahl (Philadelphia only), Todd Clever, Scott LaValla, Samu Manoa (Europe only)

Backs: Mike Petri (Philadelphia and Georgia only), Robbie Shaw (Russia only), Shaun Davies, Toby L'Estrange, Zach Pangelinan, Andrew Suniula, Seamus Kelly, Adam Siddall, Folau Niua, Luke Hume, Tim Maupin, Joe Cowley, Chris Wyles (Europe only), Blaine Scully (Europe only)


  1. Looks like a pretty strong squad. Hope Fenoglio can nail down the hooker position now that Biller is not in the squad. Great to see the likes of Cowley, Kelly, Burdette & Dolan get their opportunities.

    Looking forward to these tests! Best of luck to Coach Tolkin and his staff!


  2. No Zee on the squad. Interesting non-selection.

  3. It will be interesting to see how things pan out with differing availabilities as there are a number of controversial decisions (like leaving Zee off the roster). I just hope that the U.S. plays some good attacking rugby against Georgia and Russia. My hopes aren't very high for the Maori game. Hopefully its not a blow out.