USA Eagles Fall Tour Preview Analysis: Part II

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BLACKANDBLUENEW YORK, NY – Yesterday we discussed the recently announced by USA Rugby touring side for their Autumn Internationals. Today we will look at the roster and discuss what to expect of the team, players and management. We will break this down by the internal units within the team, availability will be factored in (M=Maori, G=Georgia, R=Russia).

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Front Row
Nick Wallace Olympic Club  M, G, R
Phil Thiel Life Rugby  M, G, R
Patrick Latu Metropolis  M, G, R
Zach Fenoglio Glendale  M, G, R
Eric Fry London Scottish  G, R
Blake Burdette New York Athletic Club  M, G, R
Titi Lamositele Saracens  M, G, R
Shawn Pittman Seattle-OPSB  M, G, R

The only recognized Hooker on the roster is Thiel. Thiel looked good at the Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) and seems back to his best playing weight and position after experimenting with prop. Latu is an up and coming hooker prospect but Thiel dominated the ARC minutes and has test experience already so those are your top 2 hookers. Both flanker Derek Asbun and Fenoglio can  cover in a pinch and may do so in one of games.  In the props, Eric Fry will be under pressure for the Tighthead spot by Shawn Pittman (who can prop on Loosehead side too) and Nick Wallace who had a solid ARC. On the LH side young Lamositele will look to get another couple of caps and cement his pro contract with Saracens. Fenoglio and Burdette do not give the feel of actual position challengers and are more just cover but we will see.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Second Row
Graham Harriman Metropolis  M, G, R
Kyle Sumsion Brigham Young University  M
Inaki Basauri Tarbes Pyrenees  G
John Cullen Seattle-OPSB  M, G, R
Tai Tuisamoa Old Mission Beach Athletic Club  M, R

With both first choice locks hurt, it maybe the unlikely pairing of Tuisamoa and Harriman in the Maori match with Cullen on the bench and Sumsion just soaking in the atmosphere. The Georgia game, will likely see Basauri come in for Tuisamoa and then a return to the Maori game pair and back-up set-up for Russia. Do not be surprised though, if for either the Georgia or Russia game, Samu Manoa steps in at lock bumping one of Tuisamoa or Harriman to the bench.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Back Row
Derek Asbun University Cape Town  G, R
Todd Clever NTT Communications Shining Arcs  M, G, R
Peter Dahl Belmont Shore  M
Cameron Dolan Life Rugby  M, G, R
Samu Manoa Northampton Saints  G, R
Scott LaValla Stade Francais  M, G, R

We expect to see the much anticipated backrow of LaValla, Clever and Dolan. However, it will be interesting to see, if everyone gets to play in the “best position“, that being LaValla at 6, Clever at 7 and Dolan at 8. When Manoa joins the mix, he could play lock or force Dolan to the bench. Asbun and Dahl will provide openside cover from the bench in all likelihood. The USA has enough backrow talent to be more than a nuisance at the breakdown.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Halfbacks
Robbie Shaw Esher  R
Shaun Davies Unattached  M, G, R
Toby L’Estrange New York Athletic Club  M, G, R
Mike Petri New York Athletic Club  M, G,
Shaun Davies
Shaun Davies

At 9, we will likely get to see Davies get some meaningful test minutes. Petri will likely start the first 2 games, leave for work and when Shaw joins he will be on the bench for the Russia game as Davies will start. There are at least 3 other backs that can play 10 but L’Strange is the first choice 10.  We will find out the back-up, only in case of emergency. Despite terming him L’sigh, we are having a bit of a re-think on poor old Toby.

L’Strange played and starred for Sydney University before coming to the USA. That level puts him on par with a New South Wales Waratahs Super Rugby extended squad member at best. It is a huge ask to ask a guy to go from that level drop to the top USA domestic level, now go play international rugby at one of the toughest positions,fly-half, which may be your 2nd best position. Maybe the struggles over the summer were about the young man finding his feet at this level, we hope.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Centers
Adam Siddall Old Blue  M, G, R
Seamus Kelly University of California  M, G, R
Andrew Suniula London Wasps  M, G, R
Folau Niua Men’s Eagles Sevens  M, G, R

The first game will likely see the combo of Suniula and Kelly who did well against the Irish in Houston. Niua as of now will be an off the bench, change of pace prospect. He can actually play anywhere in the backline but centers seem to be what the USA need. Siddall will likely get some gametime at inside center in the other 2 matches but will play Fullback against the Maori as he is the only experienced FB on the roster for that game.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Back 3
Joe Cowley Life Rugby M, G, R
Luke Hume Unattached M, G, R
Tim Maupin San Francisco Golden Gate M, G, R
Zach Pangelinan Old Mission Beach Athletic Club M, G, R
Blaine Scully Leicester Tigers G, R
Chris Wyles Saracens G, R

It will be interesting to see if Wyles will be used at center with Scully going to FB for the European leg of the tour. Hume is recovering from a broken leg so he will either be slowly worked in or probably be given heavy minutes so he can try and secure another pro contract. The other 3 options of Pangelinan, Cowley and Maupin will be pushing for wing positions. Pangelinan, like Siddall, can also cover 10/15 plus kick for goal so he has the edge of making the matchday squad. However, Cowley showed in the ARC his kicking radar may be the best domestically and he could slide on the matchday 15 as a FB/Wing hybird, a poor man’s Cory Jane if you will. Maupin in the ARC proved that he is a finisher, in this new age back 3, at least one guy has to be a finisher. Siddall could figure in as a guy that can play FB and kick but after his and Cowley’s ARC performance, the former is being looked at as a playmaking 12 that can cover 15, which he will likely do against the Maori.

Phil Bailey
Phil Bailey

COACHES:

Mike Tolkin – Head Coach
William (Billy) Millard – Assistant Coach/ Backs and Attack
Justin Fitzpatrick – Assistant Coach/ Forwards and Scrum
Phil Bailey – Assistant Coach/Defense
Dave Williams – Assistant Coach/Strength and Conditioning
Chris O’Brien – Kicking Coach
Paul Goulding – Video Analyst

This expanded coaching team seems to be a massive upgrade. Based on the ARC performance for most of the team. O’Brien seems to have helped kickers make their kicks with consistency, though guys like Cowley possessed loads of natural talent. Paul Goulding will be under pressure to see if he can pick-up improvement points needed from the ARC to the first match and each match after.

Dave Williams has been a solid S & C coach. No one has mentioned the Eagles being found wanting for power, speed or fitness. When we went to research defense coach Phil Bailey we were shocked to find out that this was the exact same NSW star and Aussie Rugby League National team player and hero. Shocked as to how he ended up taking the position, apparently he had moved to NYC for work. He played a season with NYAC and then retired to focus on coaching. RWU friend, Bruce McLane, described Bailey as great rugby mind and brilliant teacher. He will bring some new defense and tackle techniques that will make a difference.

mike_tolkin_usaThe two key coaches that had a successful ARC were forwards/scrum coach Justin Fitzpatrick and Backs/attack coach Billy Millard. The new scrum law has actually benefited the USA, they seem more stable and going backwards less. The will get a stern test against the Maori and Georgia. The forwards still need to work on support and staying mentally in games for the full 80. Millard answered the call to be attacking coach and the amount of points scored seemed to increase immediately. The opposition was as tough but there fewer drops and signs of progress.

Looking at the staff Tolkin has assembled it leads us to thinking that Tolkin is taking a “less is more” approach. By finding more assistants, Tolkin can focus on the various other tasks like man-management, strategy and motivation. We hope this refreshes Tolkin and he takes advantage of the help allowing the USA kicks on with a close loss and 2 victorys on the road.

That’s it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann and Declan Yeats, respectively.

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About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.