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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Who Will Start For The Eagles Against Samoa?

We are less than a week away from the Eagles opening up their World Cup campaign against Samoa. The Eagles have aims of pushing for a quarterfinal spot and automatic qualification to the 2019 World Cup and if they want to achieve that they need to beat Samoa. Expect a full strength line-up as they push for the win but who is going to get the start? We share who we'd go with if we were the coaching staff.

Prop: Eric Fry and Titi Lamositele

Over the course of the summer (and that's why you have seven warm-up matches) it became clear that Fry and Lamositele were the best options. Not only were they they best in the scrum but they also had the open field skills to match. If the Eagles want to win they are going to need both Fry and Lamositele to have big games. World Rugby regulations say teams have to have two props on the bench so look for Ollie Kilifi and Mate Moeakiola to get the nods there.

Take the jump to read more.
Hooker: Zach Fenoglio

Both Fenoglio and Phil Thiel could easily start here but based on recent form we think that Fengolio will get the start. Having Thiel come off the bench and provide veteran support probably isn't a bad thing.

Lock: Greg Peterson and Cam Dolan

There are real questions at lock now that Hayden Smith is presumably healthy. Greg Peterson, Smith and Cam Dolan are all real options at lock and only two of them are going to start. Smith has arguably been the best Eagles lock over the last four years and has typically been favored to start when healthy. However, he hasn't played much this summer so maybe conditioning is a factor? With Peterson and Dolan both playing well we think they get the start with Smith coming off the bench. That may chance in the next match but that's what we're going with for now.

Back-row: Al McFarland, Andrew Durutalo, Samu Manoa

Samu Manoa is a no brainer here. He's the first name you put on the team sheet. Outside of Manoa it could go several ways. Andrew Durutalo is on excellent form at the moment and we think he starts. Al McFarland will likely start at the other spot if he is concussion free. Ideally that spot would be filled by Scott LaValla if it weren't for his unfortunate injury. John Quill is an option, as are Dolan and Danny Barrett but at this point they look more suited to playing lock and number eight.

Scrumhalf: Mike Petri

This is Mike Petri all the way. He is playing very well at the moment.

Fly-half: AJ MacGinty

Barring injury, no one is replacing MacGinty as the starting fly-half for the Eagles at the moment. His kicking, defense, and play making ability are simply too valuable for the Eagles not to have on the pitch. Look for Shalom Suniula to back up both Petri and MacGinty

Center: Thretton Palamo and Seamus Kelly

Heading into the summer there were four players--Palamo, Kelly, Andrew Suniula, and Folau Niua--that looked like threats to start but over the course of the summer that has been narrowed down to Palamo and Kelly. They've had some defensive issues at times this summer but have also looked very good.

Wing: Blaine Scully and Taku Ngwenya

Scully is always going to start but lately Ngwenya has shown why he is such a valuable player and will start. His pace could give Samoa troubles.

Fullback: Chris Wyles

Chris Wyles. That is all

Bench: Phil Thiel, Ollie Kilifi, Mate Moeakiola, Hayden Smith, John Quill, Danny Barrett, Shalom Suniula, Folau Niua


  1. Thoughts on switching Wyles and Scully like they did for Australia?

    1. I liked this switch. Wyles is a natural left wing, whereas Ngwenya and Scully both prefer the right.

      Scully might not have the game smarts of Wyles at 15, but he's better in the air, and there will be a lot of high kicks to field at this RWC.

  2. Totally disagree about Al McFarland. Danny Barrett has proven himself over and over. McFarland was an injury replacement so he obviously wasn't considered one of the top performers. Give the nod to Barrett at number 6 and that'd be a killer back row.

  3. I think you have to select based on the match. Samoa is huge. McFarland is a big guy - bigger than Barrett. That will help. No doubt Barrett will see playing time but size does matter as does the physicality; which McFarland brings. And to be honest Barrett HAS picked up a couple yellows and that is the last thing we can afford against Samoa; in fact part of the game plan should be to get Samoa into penalty trouble through effective ball retention and keeping the ball moving down into the right areas of the field. I think Barrett will be hugely important in the WC and would certainly back him for the Scotland and Japan games but for Samoa the Eagles do have to match size for size where they can.

  4. ^^ Completely agree. Barrett is not a 6. He is lighter and more mobile which is better suited to a wider looser style game. Prior to the return of Manoa, McFarland has been the most physical forward in the pack and this will definitely be needed when they take on Samoa.

  5. 15. Scully
    14. Ngwenya
    13. Kelly
    11. Wyles
    10. AJMG
    8. Manoa
    7. Duratalo
    6. Barrett
    4. Dolan
    3. Lamositele
    2. Fenoglio
    1. Fry

    16. Thiel
    17. Kilifi
    18. Mokeola
    19. McFarland
    20. Smith
    21. S. Suniula
    22. Niua