Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ARC Squad Positional Breakdown: The Backs

Yesterday we took a look at the forwards in the Eagles ARC camp and today we look at the backs. Overall, there a number of players that could play multiple positions and there are several good kickers in the group. The kicking especially is something to watch as the Eagles are looking for more go-to scorers. Also, look for strong competition at scrumhalf and fly-half as those positions are pretty wide open.

Scrumhalf: Tom Bliss, Niku Kruger

Only Tom Bliss and Niku Kruger are on the roster at scrumhalf so you can expect both to be on almost every match day roster and will likely swap starts at times. Bliss has a fantastic resume having starred with Loughborough University and then getting time with Wasps and Ealing. He's been on the radar for a long-time so it's a good get for the Eagles to get him. Former coach Mike Tolkin did a lot of hard work to sell him on the program.

Kruger already has started for the Eagles in a World Cup match and is the heir apparent to Mike Petri unless Bliss can get past him. Kruger is a solid young player with a great boot, which will only help his cause.

Take the jump to read more.

Fly-half: James Bird, JP Eloff, Kingsley McGowan, Mike Te'o, Jake Anderson

Make no mistake, AJ MacGinty is the Eagles fly-half and will be for the long-term. However, it's become clear that there is an opening to be his back-up or back-ups. Enter a group of players at the ARC camp that could come in and earn the role. James Bird has been at the center of Old Blue's attack over the last couple of years and he's arguably been the second best fly-half in the U.S. after MacGinty. He's available for all five matches so expect him to get plenty of playing time.

JP Eloff is another name that could get time. Before injuries kept him out for awhile he was on track to get into Eagles camp. He can kick and he's doing a good job with Chicago. Both Bird and Eloff are the only out and out fly-halfs on the roster but Jake Anderson, Kingsley McGowan, and Mike Te'o can all play the position. It's probably unlikely they get a look here but with the ARC being more experimental, don't count it out.

Center: Lemoto Filikitonga, Mike Garrity, Kingsley McGowan, Pat Blair

Like many in the backs several of these players can play in other positions. That, coupled with limited availability for some, means that there should be plenty of rotation. Filikitonga has been on the cusp of breaking into the Eagles full-time for awhile. He's got great tools and with an extended period with the Eagles could break out. McGowan has had a strong college career while Mike Garrity, Chad London, and Pat Blair will get lots of time.

Wing: Taku Ngwenya, Blaine Scully, Lemoto Filikitonga, Kingsley McGowan, Nic Edwards, Luke Hume, Ryan Matyas, Tim Stanfill

Availability is going to make things interesting here. Only Filikitonga and McGowan are available the whole time. Taku Ngwenya and Blaine Scully will almost certainly start against Argentina.  It's good to see Luke Hume back. He's only available for Canada and Chile but he would have likely been on the World Cup team had it not been for injuries. Ryan Matyas has been down in New Zealand and reportedly looking good while Tim Stanfill also just missed out on the World Cup. Nic Edwards could be the sleeper here. He hasn't played on the Sevens Series this year and has a solid 15s background which could make him hungry and successful.

Fullback: Jake Anderson, Mike Te'o, Luke Hume, Blaine Scully

Anderson and Te'o are likely to get most of the minutes with Hume and Blaine Scully only available for certain matches. Anderson is a player that could make a big impact during the ARC. He's just one of a number of solid kickers. Look for mixing and matching at this position.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know that I would say that Kruger has a great boot. Good, maybe, but definitely not great at the international level.