Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Who Will Start For The Eagles Against Russia?

Photo: Dave Stephenson

With injuries to Greg Peterson and Taku Ngwenya along with Andrew Durutalo headed off to 7s duty the Eagles are going to be making some changes this week as they face Russia. The team has already called in some reinforcements and it's possible that some of those players could see time. However, we think that the team will largely look like the one from last week. Here is our take:

Props: Titi Lamositele, Ben Tarr, Chris Baumann, Angus MacLellan

Even though Eric Fry has been invited to camp he's apparently not in consideration for selection on Saturday. In that case the same group of four will get another look. Lamositele is the automatic starter but the other spot is open. Baumann would normally be the favorite but he did give up several penalties against Italy. As John Mitchell gets more looks at his players a player like Ben Tarr or Angus MacLellan could get the nod. We think it's Tarr.

Take the jump to read more.

Hooker: James Hilterbrand, Joe Taufete'e

James Hilterbrand started last week but we think that this position could see some change. The line out didn't function the way the team would like and Taufete'e was the first non-injury sub to come into the match. That said, it also wouldn't be a shock to see Hilterbrand start once again. Tom Coolican may get a run on the bench regardless of who is starting in order to give him a look but he also may find himself out again.

Lock: Nate Brakeley, Cam Dolan, James King, Sione Sina

Lock was already a position that could have been changed but with Peterson out there will definitely be changes. We like Nate Brakeley starting once again. We thought he did a lot of things well against Italy. Cam Dolan was moved down into the locks when Peterson was injured and also did well. The biggest wildcard is James King. He arrived too late for selection last week but seems to have the confidence of the coaching staff. We're going to go with Brakeley and King starting with Dolan once again in the back-row.

Back-row: Cam Dolan, Todd Clever, Tony Lamborn, David Tameilau, Harry Higgins

With Dolan in the back-row and Todd Clever almost certain starting the question is who takes Andrew Durutalo's spot. Tony Lamborn would seem like a good candidate but as Mitchell has previously mentioned it can be hard for players that are accustomed to being bench players suddenly starting. Given that Lamborn didn't really struggle last week after coming on early we don't think that will be a problem and he starts. David Tameilau and Harry Higgins are on the bench.

Scrumhalf: Nate Augspurger, Steve Tomasin

This is Augspurger plain and simple. It wasn't a perfect debut but he did well enough to keep starting. If you have any doubts about him just watch his work rate this week.

Fly-half: AJ MacGinty

AJ MacGinty starts here. There is some question as who could be his back-up if he gets injured considering that James Bird is back in New York but then again Bird didn't suit up last week.

Center: Thretton Palamo, Shalom Suniula

The experiment of having a player like Shalom Suniula at inside center showed enough positives last week to keep it going this week. Additionally, with Thretton Palamo staying in camp it seems like a no-brainer that he would start or they would have let him go. Chad London makes the bench.

Wing: Blaine Scully, Mike Te'o

No Taku Ngwenya means that somebody new will start here. Luke Hume is a candidate after coming into camp but we think it's going to be Mike Te'o. He came on early last week and was a bright spot. He's got great hands and is electric. Blaine Scully will start in his hometown. It's possible that Seth Halliman makes the bench but we think it's Hume.

Fullback: Will Holder

Holder did well at fullback last week and should stay on as a starter. Te'o and Scully are options here but we think it's Holder.

Here is our projected line-up:

Forwards: Lamositele, Hilterbrand, Tarr, King, Brakeley, Clever, Lamborn, Dolan

Backs: Augspurger, MacGinty, Scully, Suniula, Palamo, Te'o, Holder

Bench: Taufete'e, Baumann, MacLellan, Higgins, Tameilau Tomasin, London, Hume


  1. I hope they start London over Palamo. Palamo just hasn't worked hard enough to develop the rugby IQ for this level. He doesn't line up his tackles right, coming out of the line like a scud missile. He substitutes lazy dummies for creative back line play. After so many years either in sevens or in the development squad for pro teams, you'd think he'd have matured as a player. I think its only because of his sheer athleticism that coaches keep giving him 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances.

    1. Yes! Palamo has lots of athletic ability but he just hasn't taken that next step.

  2. I would like to see Taufete'e start. FYI, you have King starting and on the bench.

  3. anyone have the scoop on Fry, interesting that he was the "guy" but now hasnt played in the Italy game or this one. Is it because issues with his Professional team?

    1. Not sure, but it could be the fact that he gave away lots of scrum penalties and Mitchell wants to avoid high penalty counts. As a side note, he is leaving Newcastle and I haven't seen anything yet about him signing elsewhere.

  4. I'd like to see Teo at 15, Hume get the start at wing.

    1. I like that idea. I found Te'o mesmerizing to watch in person.
      Luke Hume is scrappy and makes a great wing.
      That said, I like Holder at fullback, so Hume will have to look for his chance from the bench.