USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has selected 28 players for his side's upcoming camp ahead of their clash with Scotland.
USA Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has selected 28 players for his side's upcoming camp ahead of their clash with Scotland, as well as a wider squad of 40 for their Denver Camp.
Along with the 13 overseas internationals – each of whom appeared in at least one leg of the Qualifier series against Uruguay in March – Nick Civetta will join the Eagles at camp for the first time since the 2012 IRB Americas Rugby Championship. The lock spent the past season with Lazio in the National Championship of Excellence, the top rugby league in Italy.
“We needed to see some improvement in his upper-body strength and his tight play,” Tolkin said of the six-foot-eight Civetta's performance in 2012. “He worked hard on that and then he went over to Italy and really did well with Lazio. In some of the video I've seen of him he's really improved on those things.
“We want to see him be a real ball-winner in the lineout, and we'd like to see him be a physical force on the field and tackle area and with ball in hand.”
Men's Junior All-American Ben Pinkelman and Men's Collegiate All-American Garrett Brewer have also been selected for camp, highlighting the High Performance Pathway's effectiveness in identifying talent. Pinkelman recently helped the MJAAs finish third at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Hong Kong, while Brewer started at fullback for Saint Mary's College as the Gaels defeated Life University in the D1A College Rugby National Championship Final in Stanford, Calif., earlier this month.
“Ben did really well with the MJAAs,” Tolkin said. The coaching staff in Hong Kong thought he was the player of the group. We want to make it a consistent policy to bring in players from the age-grade teams and continue that link between guys getting experience from the All-Americans and learning under the older guys, veterans on the senior team.
“I think it's really important, especially in the positions we don't necessarily have a lot of depth. We have to build those from within. If we can get our nines and tens from the All-Americans and get them into senior camp with a lot of experience under their belt then the better off we are.”
Recently contracted with the Men's Eagles Sevens, Thretton Palamo will also join the Eagles in Colorado. The former University of Utah football player was the youngest-capped Eagle when he was substituted into the Eagles' match against South Africa at the IRB Rugby World Cup 2007 in France. Palamo has played with Tiger Rugby this year and will be considered at the center and wing positions for the Summer Series.
“Building into the next few months, he'll be shaking off the rust and getting into rugby shape,” Tolkin said. “We're looking forward to getting him back; he's obviously a great talent. The quicker he can get back into rugby form the better.”
Todd Clever, Civetta, Cameron Dolan, Brian Doyle, Graham Harriman, Scott LaValla, Samu Manoa, Pinkelman, Hayden Smith, Louis Stanfill, Kyle Sumsion, and Tai Tuisamoa represent the depth the Eagles have in the lock and flanker positions, with five of the players currently playing professionally in Europe.
“It's a position that we went from little depth in November to getting deep in that position now,” Tolkin said. “The guys are just going to have to battle it out and the best ones will rise to the top. The pressure's on them, but it's a great competition to have.”
Adam Siddall will participate in non-contact training with the team as he recovers from injury, while Danny Barrett, Tim Maupin, and Brett Thompson will also represent the Men's Eagles Sevens in Colorado.
The Eagles will assemble at Infinity Park at Glendale May 29 to June 4, then head to Houston, Texas, for the first match of the summer against Scotland at BBVA Compass Stadium June 7. The Eagles have hosted the RBS Six Nations side twice, the most recent in 2002 in San Francisco, Calif.
The match against Scotland is a precursor to next year's World Cup in England. Should Japan win the 2014 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Sunday, the Cherry Blossoms will also qualify for the World Cup in the Eagles' pool, setting up another pre-World Cup match June 14 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Tolkin does not expect preparations for the matches to be any different knowing his team could face both in his first World Cup as head coach.
“The Summer Series will be interesting with two teams in our pool,” Tolkin said. “It'd be a good preview. We'll prepare like we do for every international – prepare our guys to play. We'll just have a good look at them. Things change over the year so it's not going to be anything over the top.”
The overseas players will join the team midway through camp, as club seasons are still ongoing. Dolan and Manoa's Northampton Saints will finish the season against Titi Lamositele, Smith, and Wyles of Saracens in the Aviva Premiership Final May 31, the same day Phil Thiel's Life will battle for the 2014 USA Rugby Division I Club National Championship in Madison, Wis.
USA travel squad to face Scotland: Danny Barrett, Todd Clever, Tom Coolican, Miles Craigwell, Cameron Dolan, Eric Fry, Troy Hall, Luke Hume, Seamus Kelly, Olive Kilifi, Titi Lamositele, Scott Lavalla, Chad London, Samu Manoa, Tim Maupin, Folau Niua, Mike Petri, Shawn Pittman, Blaine Scully, Hayden Smith, Louis Stanfill, Kyle Sumsion, Andrew Suniula, Shalom Suniula, Phil Thiel, Tai Tuisamoa, Nick Wallace, Chris Wyles
Men's Eagles | Denver Camp:Nate Augspurger (Men's Eagles Sevens), Danny Barrett (Men's Eagles Sevens), Garrett Brewer (Saint Mary's College), Nick Civetta (Lazio RFC), Todd Clever (NTT Shining Arcs), Tom Coolican (Richmond RFC), Miles Craigwell (Seattle-OPSB), Cameron Dolan (Northampton RFC), Brian Doyle (NYAC), TC Elliott (Seattle-OPSB), Zach Fenoglio (Glendale Raptors), Eric Fry (London Scottish FC), Troy Hall (Seattle-OPSB), Graham Harriman (James Bay RFC), Luke Hume (Narbonne), Seamus Kelly (University of California), Olive Kilifi (Seattle-OPSB), Titi Lamositele (Saracens RFC), Scott LaValla (Stade Francais), Chad London (Glendale Raptors), Samu Manoa (Northampton RFC)
Tim Maupin (Men's Eagles Sevens), Folau Niua (Glasgow Warriors), Thretton Palamo, Mike Petri (NYAC), Ben Pinkelman (Denver Barbarians), Shawn Pittman (Seattle-OPSB), Blaine Scully (Leicester FC), Adam Siddall (Belmont Shore RFC), Hayden Smith (Saracens RFC), Louis Stanfill (Seattle-OPSB), Kyle Sumsion (Brigham Young University), Andrew Suniula (London Wasps), Shalom Suniula (Seattle-OPSB), Phil Thiel (Life Rugby), Brett Thompson (Men's Eagles Sevens), Matt Trouville (Seattle-OPSB), Tai Tuisamoa (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club), Nick Wallace (James Bay RFC), Chris Wyles (Saracens RFC)