Thursday, February 1, 2018

Who Will Start For The Eagles Against Argentina XV?

The Americas Rugby Championship isn't that old but already the rivalry between the Argentina XV and the Eagles is strong. In 2016 the teams drew 35-35 in Houston and in 2017 it was a 27-27 draw in Argentina that delivered the U.S. the championship. In the two years of the competition only Argentina XV and the U.S. have won the tournament and this year's match could similarly dictate who wins the whole thing. With that in mind look for the U.S. to put forth their strongest team. Plus, the overseas professionals might not be around for the whole tournament. Here's who we think might start (disclaimer: the roster could have easily changed since it was first announced so players that were listed as available may no longer have that availability and new players could have been called in).

Prop: Titi Lamositele, Dino Waldren; Paddy Ryan, Angus MacLellan

The starters at prop should be pretty strait forward. Titi Lamositele has been a workhorse for the Eagles since his debut and his experience will be needed. He might not be able to go 80 minutes but he does set a tone that the Eagles need. Dino Waldren has been playing well in the RFU Championship and should start. The main question is who will be the back-up. Angus MacLellan, Paddy Ryan, Tony Purpura, Chance Wenglewski, and Huluholo Moungaloa are all options. We think it's Ryan and MacLellan from that group.

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Hooker: Joe Taufete'e; James Hildebrand

The Eagles have a lot of depth at hooker, which is only a good thing. We're looking at Joe Taufete'e to start not only because of his ability but because he offers familiarity for new coach Gary Gold. James Hilterbrand and Peter Malcolm saw a lot of time under John Mitchell but at least one of them is going to have to miss out this weekend. We think it's Malcolm because Hilterbrand might have to head back overseas after this weekend.

Lock: Nick Civetta, Nate Brakeley; Matt Jensen

The Eagles similarly have depth at lock. To us Nick Civetta is an automatic starter at this point. He could easily pair with Nate Brakeley or Matt Jensen. We think it's Brakeley but Jensen would not surprise us. Brendan Daly is an option but he'll likely have to wait his turn until later in the tournament.

Back-row: Tony Lamborn, Ben Landry, Cam Dolan; Aladdin Schirmer

There are some young prospects in the back-row but if we're talking about the Eagles first choice line-up the fairly obvious choices at this point are Tony Lamborn and Ben Landry at the flanker positions while Cam Dolan at number eight. Aladdin Schirmer, Hanco Germishuys, Malon Al-Jiboori, and Psalm Wooching are all prospects and of that group we think Schirmer makes the bench.

Scrumhalf: Shaun Davies; Nate Augspurger

There is still a battle at scrumhalf. Shaun Davies seemed to have won the battle at the end of the fall and we think he gets the chance this weekend with Nate Augspurger coming on as a key sub. Ruben de Haas and Devereaux Ferris will have to wait their turn.

Flyhalf: Will Hooley; Ben Cima

Hello Will Hooley! He's starting every week for Bedford and that should be good enough to slot him in as a starter for the Eagles. The only thing keeping him from the position is the fact he hasn't been in camp before. As a back-up we have Will Magie but we could also see him start somewhere else, like fullback. In that case Ben Cima would step in.

Center: Marcel Brache, Bryce Campball: Paul Lasike

The Eagles have only three true centers on the roster and a whole lot of other players that can play the role as well. We think that Marcel Brache and Bryce Campbell get the start. They've been a good partnership in 2017 and that should continue.

Wing: Blaine Scully, Ryan Matyas; Josh Whippy

Blaine Scully is definitely starting on the wing for the Eagles and we think Ryan Matyas should be right up their with him. Every time he's put on the Eagles shirt Matyas has been excellent and that should continue this week. For us Josh Whippy makes the bench.

Fullback: Will Magie; Mike Te'o

Options here include Will Magie, Ben Cima, Dylan Audsley, and Mike Te'o. It's been Te'o that's gotten the nod in the past few times but with Argentina expected to have a very strong kicking game it might make more sense to put in Magie, Cima, or Audsley. We think it's Magie with Te'o on the bench.

So here are our (almost certainly wrong) predictions:

1. Titi Lamositele
2. Joe Taufete'e
3. Dino Waldren
4. Nick Civetta
5. Nate Brakeley
6. Tony Lamborn
7. Ben Landry
8. Cam Dolan
9. Shaun Davies
10. Will Hooley
11. Ryan Matyas
12. Marcel Brache
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Blaine Scully
15. Will Magie

16. James Hilterbrand
17. Angus MacLellan
18. Paddy Ryan
19. Matt Jensen
20. Aladdin Schirmer
21. Ben Cima
22. Josh Whippy
23. Mike Te'o

1 comment:

  1. Supposedly Durutalo is in San Diego with the team so he may be available as well, probably pushing out Schirmer. Or possibly Dolan.