Thursday, June 16, 2016

Eagles Pick Starters To Face Italy

Eagles head coach John Mitchell has selected his starters for Saturday's match against Italy. By and large it's the squad as expected with Todd Clever captaining the team and experience on the roster in the forms of Titi Lamositele, Andrew Durutalo, Cam Dolan, Greg Peterson, AJ MacGinty, Blaine Scully, and Taku Ngwenya.

One of the biggest question marks heading into the announcement was who was going to start at scrumhalf. That's now been answered with Nate Augspurger getting the call. He'll line up in the halfbacks with AJ MacGinty. Also in the backs, Blaine Scully and Taku Ngwenya will be on the wings with Will Holder at fullback. Holder is good in their and has a great boot and could be a key piece at fullback going forward.

Take the jump to read more.
The biggest surprise in the forwards is Shalom Suniula pairing up in the centers with Thretton Palamo. Suniula has played scrumhalf and fly-half for the team but this will be the first time in the centers. Both of his brothers Roland and Andrew are centers.

In the forwards the back-row of Durutalo, Clever, and Dolan looks particularly strong. Tony Lamborn was an option having played Super Rugby but Mitchell has gone with a solid group that is well familiar with each other. Lamborn could come off the bench and make a big impact. Greg Peterson and Nate Brakeley will be the locks.

In the front row Titi Lamositele will get his 18th cap despite barely turning 21. The other prop will be Chris Baumann with James Hilterbrand as the hooker.

On the bench are three front row replacements and two second and back row replacements. There are three backs available as subs.

Forwards: Titi Lamositele, James Hilterbrand, Chris Baumann, Nate Brakeley, Greg Peterson, Andrew Durutalo, Todd Clever, Cam Dolan

Backs: Nate Augspurger, AJ MacGinty, Blaine Scully, Shalom Suniula, Thretton Palamo, Taku Ngwenya, Will Holder

Bench: Joe Taufete'e, Ben Tarr, Angus MacLellan, Steve Tomasin, Harry Higgins, Tony Lamborn, Chad London, Mike Te'o


  1. Have some real concerns about John Mitchell’s selection.

    Durutalo is a pure openside who he has picked at 6, with Clever – recently more an eightman or lock, at 7.

    Nate Augspurger - zero international or professional experience as a scrumhalf selected at 9.

    Shalom Suniula is a former 7s specialist who has only played 15s as a 9 or 10, now selected at inside centre. He’s 85kg – tiny for a midfielder. Him and the similarly slight MacGinty will have the likes of Barbieri and Favaro charging at them.

    Palamo has never played 13, which also has different defensive requirements – though I do feel his speed and bulk will be more dangerous in the increased space of the outside channel.

    Isn't Holder usually a fly half? I’d rather have seen Scully at fullback and Luke Hume on the left wing.

    Also a 6-2 split in the replacements with a centre and fullback as the backs. No specialist halfbacks. I suppose Te'o can play 9 and Holder or Suniula at 10.

    1. My guess is that Durutalo and Clever either play pure left and right or Durutalo will be the open side even though he wears 6. That is how Schalk Burger played. He wore 6 and played open. Augspurger has played at a high quality level in 7s. If someone else were better, they should have put their hand up by performing better in camp. For what it's worth, the 7s players have stepped up when asked to play 15s. Look at Test, Barrett, and Durutalo.

      Suniula is going to be a distributor at 12. The idea is going to be to play wide and get our excellent wingers the ball early and often. MacGinty is one of the best defending 10s in rugby at the moment. Look at his games, it shows up on tape. His coaches at Connacht have even stated as much. I like Palamo in space, especially with a distributor like Suniula at 12.

      Holder is somewhat of a mystery, but I'm backing him. While we are all armchair coaches, let's at least see how things play out before we knock the selection. Especially, since there are some unknowns.

    2. We, the American Rugby Community, have become accustomed to a very staunch, very traditional manner of selection and position assignment over the last decade. This has not worked.

      Mitch may actually have the measure of the American athletic mindset and how it will apply to an open, running rugby game.

      Chide Shalom's size all you want, but he is a strong dude and hard to bring to the ground. He is also an effective distributor of the skip pass and a stepper who looks for the offload. Both of these traits play to the strengths of Zee, Blaine, & Thretts when they are in support.

      We're so busy wondering why Clever & Durutalo are at their positions that we're blind to the X-factor at 8-man. It would not surprise me to see MacGinty, Dolan, and Scully link up to blow the lid off this summer after Clever & Durutalo have secured turnover ball.

      We can speculate all we want, but I think many of us are missing the insane genius of Mitch directing a rugby team without the encumbrance of a rugby community or set of committeemen who's second-guessing BS could see him laughed at.

    3. I think the inclusion of the 7's players is Mitchell's priority of fitness, which I agree with. They want an attacking team out there, the one thing I worry about is Suniula at 12. That WC game against South Africa his tackling was horrible. Chad London would be a better choice. And as for the 6-2 split isn't Tomasin a back? That would make it the usual 5-3 split.

  2. John Mitchell has actually just said the following:
    "With a large number of coaches, as well, it's wonderful to have enough resources to deliver the micro within the macro of the attacking and defensive frameworks. I'm working with a competent coaching group, the team management has improved its processes in this assembly; this competency allows the program to focus on the players' strengths, culture, and more importantly mentor the player in his role clarity and his skill sets."

    He has certainly delivered the micro within the macro of the talking daft management-speak framework while cascading a robust strategy of sustained incomprehensibility.

  3. I like the 10 12 combination. Agree that Suniula will be a distributor much like the Ford/Farrell combination with England, which forgoes the typical 12 battering ram. Palamo in space should do damage.

  4. At the most hes trying different combination which I like. We have a weak attacking game and I believe he is trying to bring the best out of the backline. Hes also stated multiple times hes building a team and he needs to test as much as he can. The results will come later.

  5. I like this team, but I would like to see Hume start over Ngwenya, and Teo start over Holder.

    1. I love Hume but have you seen what Ngwenya has been doing for San Diego!!

  6. This is a squad chosen for fitness. Everyone on the pitch can put in a high work rate. And if you wonder why the 7s guys are included, it seems clear that Mitchell is valuing fitness above size

    On Shalom. 2 thoughts to keep in mind: 1. Yes he can play 9 or 10 but until last summer we almost always saw him at 10 and he seemed more comfortable there. 2. On the EETS Eloff was listed as a center. And Mitchell called him when he got hurt, so clearly had plans for him. He likely looking for a 2nd distributor at 12, not a crash ball specialist. So was never going to be London and Palamo. First choice was probably Eloff at 12 but settling for Shalom

  7. All I have to say is I'm excited to see these kids play, it's about the road and development for the next World Cup.

    I'm excited to see coach Mitchell go in this direction, only gonna get better everyone.

    Good luck boys.