|Photo: Connie Hatfield|
Our latest edition of 30 Tickets to Japan is out. Yesterday we looked at prop and hooker, as well as lock and back-row, and now we look at flyhalf and scrumhalf. For those that aren't aware this is an series of pieces that predicts who would be on the Eagles roster at the World Cup if it started today (there are actually 31 spots with an extra spot for a front-row player). Almost certainly things will change between now and 2019 and you can bet that some new players are going to come out of the woodwork and state their case.
Scrumhalf Pool: Nate Augspurger, Shaun Davies, Charlie Purdon, Madison Hughes, Chris Saint, Shalom Suniula, Steve Tomasin, Tom Bliss, Nick Boyer
Scrumhalf may be one the most open position on the roster. As we saw last summer, during the November tests, and then again during the ARC head coach John Mitchell hasn't settled on a starter. He's oscillated between Nate Augspurger, Sean Davies, Tom Bliss, and Steve Tomasin during that time. The ARC saw Augspurger and Davis swap. Bliss is injured and not likely to play soon while Tomasin has been involved in 7s but should be involved in the summer. Outside of that you have the likes of Charlie Purdon, Madison Hughes, Chris Saint, or Shalom Suniula.
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One of the things that complicates the picture is how well Augspurger did while playing on the wing during the ARC. That may open things up for Mitchell in terms of options. Overall, Augspurger needs to be on the roster. He's a leader and helps the teams in a myriad of ways. Davies did enough to keep his place as well. All that said, we think that Charlie Purdon, Madison Hughes, and Steve Tomasin all get a look in the summer. Of those players fans have been clamoring for Hughes but we think it's Tomasin that gets a shot.
Flyhalf Pool: AJ MacGinty, Will Magie, Ben Cima, James Bird
Flyhalf is straightforward but with some options. One or two players are simply going to have to miss out. AJ MacGinty is the undisputed starter. The big question is who will back him up. Both Will Maie and Ben Cima had their chance during the ARC while James Bird probably would have been there if he hadn't been injured. Magie had a fantastic ARC and we think it's enough to make him the back-up to MacGinty. Cima and Bird could still be used on the roster as emergency back-ups.
Here's who we have:
Scrumhalf: Augspurger (starter), Davies, Steve Tomasin (summer series only), Madison Hughes (summer series only)
Flyhalf: MacGinty (starter), Magie, Ben Cima (summer series only), James Bird (summer series only)