Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mitchell Discusses Summer Series Preparations

The Eagles are gearing up for a busy summer with an extended training camp and matches against Italy and Russia. To help get more on the team we caught up with head coach John Mitchell who was kind enough to answer a few questions.

TIAR: What has been your biggest challenge since taking over the role?

John Mitchell: Knowing what I can control versus what I cannot contra. We can control tactics, fitness, skills, attitude, and mental engagement. We cannot control selection & commitment of the best team mix & how long it will take to get the experience we need to consistently win.

TIAR: What has been one thing that has surprised you in a positive way about American rugby?

JM: The players individual confidence in their ability regardless of their limited deposits of belief in winning and playing the game at the highest level. 

Take the jump to read more.

TIAR: The ARC appeared to show a divide between players that have been getting active game-time overseas and domestic players that maybe struggled with the pace at times. How much of a concern is it for you to have that gap heading into the summer? 

JM: What concerned us more was the inability to achieve continuity in the same team mix each week. Because we had no control over the roster and experiencing new staff it was inevitable that challenging team selections and part time players were not going to handle the training and performance loads. Likewise the players who were not compliant on the field, giving away penalties, became obvious and costly for the team in key moments. However, it did unearth some players to move into the next assembly. 

TIAR: The competition is only five weeks old but do you think that PRO Rugby is already having an impact on your playing pool? Any players that have stood out to you that maybe weren't on the radar for the ARC? 

JM: PRO Rugby is very good for the USA game but it needs to stick for four years. It's not what we see now that really matters because it's a start, it's what we will see in players in two to three years time that will really benefit the national team. Already some players are demonstrating consistency in performance, e.g. (Sebastian) Kalm from Ohio and (Peter) Dahl from Denver. However, the tempo & intensity is still not aligned to Super Rugby and test rugby, especially in getting the ball to space and winning the race to the ball in all contests. 

TIAR: Both Samu Manoa and AJ MacGinty are coming off injuries. MacGinty has already returned to Connacht and Manoa could return to Toulon soon. Will both of those players be involved in the summer series or is there pressure to give them rest? 

JM: One of our values is connectedness whether you are in camp or out and both players have been contacted about their availability, as have all our overseas players, 7s players, PRO Rugby, club & collegiate players in the EETS and Development Group. We will never risk any player returning from injury unless it's managed and aligned through their clubs and our staff. There are no special privileges between players as we expect them all to respect our culture in and out of the the team squad. Some have experienced it, some are about to and our depth to come have no idea. However even regulation 9 requires us to treat each player's situation case by case and especially the players who have to work to put break on the table. 

TIAR: Most other countries will have three test this summer, the U.S. will only have two. Does that worry you as a coach as you try to develop your team?

JM: Not ideal for continuity. It was disappointing that Scotland chose to go to Japan is stead. What is a favorable benefit for us is to have a High Performance camp instead of preparing everything in one week of the first test match. What you need to bear in mind its that we have to negotiate our playing calendar and there do not control that either. Nigel and his team have done a good job achieving 11 international fixtures for 2016. 

TIAR: Finally, the U.S. has never beaten a Tier I nation. What do we have to do to defeat Italy next month? 

JM: Success is dependent on the speed of our learning and the ability to attract and have our best athletes together at each assembly. We will each need to give a huge amount more than we have done before and raise our standards and levels of outputs to deserve the right to beat Tier I's on a consistent basis, otherwise it would have been achieved before now. 

1 comment:

  1. How is Mitchell not controlling selection yet is Alexander Magleby still doing all the selections?