Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Eagles 30 Tickets: The Summer Tour

The Eagles will begin their summer series in about a month and a half. With the ARC in the rear view mirror and with PRO Rugby sifting through players head coach John Mitchell is going to have some choices to make. With that in mind we have our latest edition of 30 tickets where we look at who we think will be on the team. It should come with the disclaimer that in all likelihood there could be more than 30 players used and there are bound to be surprises.

Prop: Eric Fry, Titi Lamositele, Chris Baumann, Ollie Kilifi

As always we'll start with the props. It's pretty clear that at this point Eric Fry and Titi Lamositele are the top two choices at the position. Fry hasn't been playing a lot at Newcastle this year and the rumors have him potentially coming to PRO Rugby. Either way, he should be ready to go for the summer. Lamositele has taken on a greater role at Saracens and he could be tired but with only two matches he shows up and plays.

The big question is going to be who rounds out the group. Chris Baumann and Ollie Kilifi seem like the go-to options at this point and should at least be in camp. Ben Tarr and Angus MacLellan have been getting good time in PRO Rugby and are in the Eagles Elite Training Squad. If the idea is to build for the next World Cup then it makes sense to bring Tarr, MacLellan, and a player like Val Lee-Lo along. We think that they may see time but against Italy it's Fry, Lamositele, Baumann, and Kilifi.

Take the jump to read more.
Hooker: James Hilterbrand, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Joe Taufete'e

One of the best surprises of the ARC was the play of Joe Taufete'e. He hasn't been playing for San Diego yet but he should be available for next month's matches. At this point he appears like the top choice at hooker but he's going to have to ward off James Hilterbrand and Mike Sosene-Feagai. Yes, Hilterbrand saw some brief time in Super Rugby this year but when he was on the ARC squad he didn't always start. Plus, he may not be available. Sosene-Feagai also looked decent at the ARC but there will be competition. Tom Coolican has been one of San Francisco's most consistent players this year while Zach Fenoglio is back healthy and on a tear. We're going to go with Taufete'e, Hilterbrand, and Sosene-Feagai as making the roster.

Lock: Greg Peterson, Cam Dolan, Nate Brakeley

If everyone was healthy and available the first choice pairing is pretty obvious with Greg Peterson and Samu Manoa. Peterson has been having an excellent season with Glasgow and will be a leader this summer. Manoa is the bigger question mark. He should be getting ready to make his return for Toulon but if he can't come back for the Top 14 season it seems very unlikely that he'll be back for two matches this summer. It's probably better for him to rest ahead of next season.

Ben Landry and Brodie Orth found their groove during the ARC but Landry is trying to make the NFL and Orth has been injured. James King was thrust into the fire at the ARC. He may garner another look while Cam Dolan can also slide down into the second row. We think that's the case if Manoa can't go. Nate Brakeley also came in and did well. With the injuries and absences it would shock us to see him on the team. Whether or not Dolan slides down into the locks depends a lot on the options the Eagles have in the back-row. If he plays in the back-row then we think King makes the team.

Back-row: Todd Clever, Andrew Durutalo, David Tameilau, Aladdin Schirmer, Al McFarland, John Quill

There will be no Danny Barrett this summer with the Olympics taking priority but even without him the Eagles are going to have a lot (seriously, a lot) of options in the back-row. Todd Clever, Andrew Durutalo, and David Tameilau are the top three at the moment but don't discount Al McFarland who was strong at the World Cup. John Quill is back playing a lot of rugby and has looked strong with Sacramento. Then there are the likes of Bruce Thomas (if healthy), Aladdin Schirmer, Hanco Germishuys, Alec Gletzer, and Harry Higgins. We think that Schirmer, McFarland, and Quill make the cut with maybe more coming into the team later.

Scrumhalf: Tom Bliss, Niku Kruger

Scrumhalf is one position in which the Eagles will almost certainly go with youth. Tom Bliss and Niku Kruger are both young and hungry. Kruger has seen more time in PRO Rugby so far with Bliss often playing behind Charlie Purdon but that doesn't mean he won't get called in. Another player that we think should get a look is Shaun Davies. He's been outstanding for Ohio this year.

Fly-half: AJ MacGinty, James Bird

AJ MacGinty is the first choice, full stop. He's back playing for Connacht and will be a big part of the Eagles this summer. James Bird had his ups and downs at the ARC but it was mainly positive. For the most part he looked very much like MacGinty's back-up. If there are a couple of players that might make a break through it's JP Eloff (although he can play in a different position) and Will Magie.

Center: Chad London, Ryan Matyas, Lemoto Filikitonga, Andrew Suniula

Normally the Eagles would have even more options here if the 7s team weren't occupied. All the same the Eagles will still have good options. Chad London had a good ARC and has been playing well for Denver. He seems like a likely starter. Ryan Matyas has maybe had the most impressive season so far in PRO Rugby. He's playing really well and it's hard to see him not being a part of the squad in some form. He may not be the biggest player but he's making up for it with head's up plays. Outside of that there aren't any obvious players to include the team. Lorenzo Thomas probably won't be healthy in time, Lemoto Filikitonga is a good option, and Andrew Suniula says he still wants to play. Maybe we see the return of Seamus Kelly but word has it that he wants to focus on work in New York.

Wing: Blaine Scully, Taku Ngwenya, Luke Hume, Pila Huihui

As has been the case over the last few years the Eagles have depth on the wings. Blaine Scully and Taku Ngwenya seem like the obvious choices to start. They bring the most experience and Scully is the one of the team's best players. There are openings behind them. Luke Hume is back and playing very well for Old Blue. He's a coaches favorite and we think that with Mitchell seeing him in person last weekend it had to have made an impression.

Pila Huihui has been tearing it up with SFGG and after missing out on some chances to play for the Eagles the past few seasons needs to get a look. Tim Maupin has been helping Trinity to promotion in Ireland. Kingsley McGowan is another option but he's taken some time off. Then there is Tim Stanfill who has been good for San Diego. We think that Hume and Huihui make it.

Fullback: Jake Anderson, Mike Te'o

Blaine Scully could slide back into fullback but we think that Mitchell goes with someone else. Even though San Francisco has struggled this year Jake Anderson has been outstanding. He was also good at the ARC. He's got all the attributes to be a key part of the Eagles going forward. Mikey Te'o also has been playing very well. One name that could surprise is Conor Kearns. He's been a teammate of Maupin at Trinity and has been a consistent starter.

Here's who we have making the roster:

Forwards: Eric Fry, Titi Lamositele, Chris Baumann, Ollie Kilifi, James Hilterbrand, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Joe Taufete'e, Greg Peterson, Cam Dolan, Nate Brakeley, Todd Clever, Andrew Durutalo, David Tameilau, Aladdin Schirmer, Hanco Germishuys, John Quill

Backs: Tom Bliss, Niku Kruger, AJ MacGinty, James Bird, Chad London, Ryan Matyas, Lemoto Filikitonga, Andrew Suniula, Blaine Scully, Taku Ngwenya, Luke Hume, Pila Huihui, Jake Anderson, Mike Te'o


  1. Good stuff. But why do you mention Fengolio but then not list him? He must be first choice based on how he's playing in PRO.

    Also Rumor is that McGowan has been spotted training with Sacramento.