Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Who Will Start For The Eagles Against Ireland

Eagles head coach John Mitchell has some tough decisions to make ahead of this weekend's match against Ireland. As big as this match is in terms of exposure it's all about the World Cup qualifying series against Canada later in the month. Nothing gives exposure like qualifying for the World Cup. With that in mind and the fact the team is missing some big names like Samu Manoa, Greg Peterson, Titi Lamositele, and Blaine Scully to injury there could be some interesting choices. Here is our best guess and who we think might start.

Prop: Joe Taufete'e, Chris Baumann, Paddy Ryan, Ben Tarr

If Lamositele had been healthy we'd have him and Chris Baumann starting without question. With Eric Fry not being called in the Eagles don't have a lot of experience up front so losing Lamositele in particular hurts. Paddy Ryan, a U.S.-eligible player for the Newcastle Falcons, has been called up in his place but as such a late replacement it would be odd to see him start. Maybe he would given the fact that it's all about the build up to Canada but there are other options. Tony Purpura was excellent at the ARC. Ben Tarr, Dino Waldren, and Joe Taufete'e are all options. It's probably the Taufete'e option that makes the most sense. With James Hilterbrand and Peter Malcolm full capable at hooker that could free up Taufete'e to fill in at prop, something he's done before. We think it's Taufete'e and Baumann with Ryan and Tarr as the back-ups.

Take the jump to read more.
Hooker: James Hilterbrand, Peter Malcolm

With Taufete'e sliding into prop in our scenario it complicates things less at hooker. Both James Hilterbrand and Peter Malcolm will be in the line-up it seems but who starts in the question. In such a big game we think Hilterbrand starts.

Lock: Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta

Things could get really complicated at lock depending on what Mitchell does in the backs. The back-row is loaded once again so he could shift some players down into the locks. That said, we don't think he breaks up the very successful pairing of Nate Brakeley and Nick Civetta. Both players have proven themselves extremely effective in the past and are reliable. Matt Jensen and Ben Landry are the other two lock options while Todd Clever, Cam Dolan, and David Tameilau can all play there as well.

Back-row: Tony Lamborn, Andrew Durutalo, David Tameilau, Cam Dolan, Todd Clever

Only one name stands out as an automatic starter in this group and that would be Tony Lamborn. However, don't read into that and think the rest of the group isn't talented. In fact, the U.S. is enjoying a golden generation of back-row players at the moment. It's an embarrassment of riches. Of the six players available--Todd Clever, Cam Dolan, Andrew Durutalo, Tony Lamborn, John Quill, and David Tameilau--someone is going to have to miss out. It's a tough choice but we'd have both Lamborn and Durutalo starting at flanker with Tameilau as the No. 8 man. Dolan and Clever make the bench. This gives the U.S. two absolute jackals at the breakdown and a man in Tameilau who is in excellent form. It would not shock us to see Dolan, Clever, and Quill all make the bench because Dolan and Clever are lock options.

Scrumhalf: Shaun Davies

Nate Augspurger or Shaun Davies. Both played well at the ARC and both would do well in the summer. This is where Augspurger's versatility is both a cursing and a blessing. The fact that the Eagles are thin elsewhere in the backs makes us think he might start on the wing again while Davies starts at scrumhalf.  It's possible that Madison Hughes fills in here but we think he goes elsewhere in the backs.

Flyhalf: AJ MacGinty, Ben Cima

Mitchell has experimented some during his time at flyhalf due to the fact that he likes to essentially have a second flyhalf in the centers. We've seen AJ MacGinty slide over to #12 before and could do so against Ireland. However, we think that MacGinty starts at flyhalf with either Ben Cima or Will Magie has his primary back-up. That all depends on what is done in the centers and at fullback.

Center: Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell

Marcel Brache could fit the mold of what Mitchell is looking for in a #12. He's mainly played on the wing and at #13 for the Western Force but he has the playmaking abilities to be successful at #12. We think he starts there alongside Bryce Campbell. It's tempting to think that Martin Iosefo could make an impact in place of Campbell but Campbell's success and history with Mitchell seems like reason enough for him to start.

Wing: Nate Augspurger, Martin Iosefo, Mike Te'o

We could easily see Brache starting on the wing and a player like Magie in the centers instead. However, we think that Augspurger gets a go on the wing along with Iosefo as the surprise starter. Augspurger was outstanding against Argentina while Iosefo has running skills that are hard to beat. Matai Leuta, Ryan Matyas, and Mike Te'o are all options as well.

Fullback: Will Magie, Madison Hughes

We're putting Magie back here because of his experience and his kicking abilities. The Eagles need a player cool under pressure and one that makes the right decisions that's Magie.

So here are our starters:

Forward: Joe Taufete'e, James Hilterbrand, Chris Baumann, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, Tony Lamborn, Andrew Durutalo, David Tameilau

Backs: Shaun Davies, AJ MacGinty, Nate Augspurger, Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Martin Iosefo, Will Magie

Bench: Peter Malcolm, Paddy Ryan, Ben Tarr, Cam Dolan, Todd Clever, Ben Cima, Madison Hughes, Mike Te'o

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