NFL’s Ebner makes USA squad for Rio

Date published: July 18 2016

CHULA VISTA, CA - JULY 14:  USA Rugby hopeful Nate Ebner catches a ball  during a training session at the Olympic Training Center on July 14, 2016 in Chula Vista, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

USA Sevens head coach Mike Friday has selected his squad for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with Chris Wyles included.

The team will be captained by Madison Hughes, who recently became the United States’ all-time leading scorer on the Sevens Series. Hughes, a graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, also finished as the top-scorer in the 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series.

Hughes is joined by veterans Zack Test, Folau Niua, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender and Maka Unufe. All five were regular faces for USA throughout the 2015/16 season. Friday’s squad also includes the dynamic pairing of Perry Baker and Carlin Isles.

Andrew Durutalo and Wyles are also named, with neither Durutalo or Wyles participating in the 2015/16 season, instead playing professionally for clubs in Japan and England, respectively. This past season, Wyles achieved a Premiership and European Cup double at Saracens.

New England Patriot Nate Ebner joins the squad after receiving his team’s blessing to make a run at an Olympic dream.

“It’s a huge honour to represent your country at any time in your life, but to be given the responsibility at the Olympic Games – the biggest sporting event on the planet – makes it even more special,” said Friday.

“The fact that we will be part of Team USA and that as a result we will be exposing the USA sporting public to another team sport they can engage with and enjoy watching, as well as passionately support their country, is immense.

“The boys fully appreciate the accountability that comes with that responsibility and are looking forward with confidence to those challenges. While we are not the pre-tournament favorites like Fiji who have to play with that expectation, we are a team who are hugely respected and feared by all other countries as genuine contenders.

“We know that on any given Sunday we have the power, pace and physicality to match and beat anyone. The boys recognise the magnitude of the task but are confident that we can be medal contenders if we play to our ability. We will represent the people of the USA in a way that they expect and deserve, exhibiting the characteristics that will make them proud.”

Following a week of training in Florida, the team will travel directly to Brazil on August 1. Friday’s side are in Pool A alongside host nation Brazil, Argentina and 2015/16 Sevens Series champions Fiji.

USA squad: Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Garrett Bender, Andrew Durutalo, Nate Ebner, Madison Hughes, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Ben Pinkelman, Zack Test, Maka Unufe, Chris Wyles

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