Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Who Has The Inside Track On A Rio Roster Spot?

The Eagles 7s are going to go into camp later this month to decide who makes it to Rio. The word on the street is it that the final squads have to be named in the middle to the end of July. That should give head coach Mike Friday and staff plenty of time to decide on who makes it. Rather than wait that long we thought we'd give some early prognostications.

All But Assured: Zack Test, Madison Hughes, Folau Niua, Perry Baker, Maka Unufe, Danny Barrett, Nate Augspurger

Even though competition has been fierce for every tournament and Friday has shown that he is willing to shake things up there is still a core group of players that has been on every tournament when healthy. Even though they could have played 15s this summer the fact that the likes of Danny Barrett, Zack Test, Madison Hughes, Folau Niua, and others are resting up probably indicates they know they might be headed to Rio. There could always be a shock but it's unlikely with this group.

Take the jump to read more.

Momentum/Recent History Is On Their Side: Ben Pinkelman, Martin Iosefo, Nate Augspurger, Carlin Isles, Garrett Bender

Carlin Isles would likely be in the above group if he hadn't been injured the last few tournaments. The likeliest scenario is that he has been kept out as a precaution to get him ready for Rio. His presence, especially in his ability to trade off with Perry Baker, is an invaluable asset for the team. If he's healthy, he's going to Rio.

Nate Augspurger has been a steady presence all season. At this point he's earned his spot. The only complication is that if he gets hurt playing 15s against Italy or Russia. Martin Iosefo is also close to making it to Rio. He's played some of the best rugby of the year for the Eagles and brings power and pace. Ben Pinkelman has been a revelation late in the year even starting over more experienced players at times. The question is, as a young player, can he hold his place when other experienced players come back into the team.

The Wildcards: Chris Wyles, Andrew Durutalo, Nate Ebner

For us, Andrew Durutalo is the biggest wildcard. Last year he was arguably the Eagles MVP and was one of the best players on the Series. His work at the breakdown as some of the best in the world and it's why he earned a place in Super Rugby. That said, he hasn't played 7s in a year. Can he get back in 7s shape and find his mojo? We think so but then again who is he going to knock off?

Chris Wyles is an intriguing option but he hasn't played 7s in a number of years outside of the NACRA 7s last year. However, he brings a lot of experience and is a double champion in Europe. Of all the wildcards he might have the toughest time making the team.

Nate Ebner has taken a break from the NFL to play 7s. He's had some bright spots in his opportunities but he still has some liabilities and entering the biggest tournament of all-time you can't have a player with liabilities.

Outside Looking In: Thretton Palamo, Will Holder, Peter Tiberio, Pat Blair, Seth Halliman, Ben Leatigaga, Brett Thompson, Shalom Suniula, Aladdin Schirmer, Kevin Swiryn, Matai Leuta

Most of these players have made an appearance on the Series this year but the numbers aren't in their favor. They have a lot of good players ahead of them that have been the core of the team. It's possible that a player like Kevin Swiryn or Brett Thompson make it back (depending on recovery) or a college player like Seth Halliman or Aladdin Schirmer make it. Of this whole group Thretton Palamo, Will Holder, and Pat Blair arguably have the inside track.

Longshots: Alex Faison-Donahoe, ConRoy Smith, Joey Sok, Alex Elkins

These players have been in Eagles camp or are in residency. They've also played for the Falcons but with no appearances on the Series they are long shots.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to imagine a healthy Carlin Isles not going to Rio. The ability to switch him and Baker up is extremely important to the attacking game under Coach Friday. Similarly, unless Durutalo just isn't firing on all cylinders for sevens, his ability to force turnovers is too important to leave at home. A healthy Kevin Swiryn will be an interesting decision, as he was seeing a great deal of PT prior to his injury and brings a veteran aspect that may help keep some of the younger men out of trouble in the Olympic Village.

    As a heads up, you have Augspurger listed as both a "all but assured" and "momentum/recent history on their side." I agree that barring an injury, it looks like Augspurger should be in the lineup, but very hard to imagine Iosefo not making it to Rio. When Iosefo is at his best, like he was in Vancouver, he is amazing.