USA Rugby 2014 Autumn Internationals Tour Preview Pt. 2

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NEW YORK, NY – Tuesday 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 (AB=All Blacks, R=Romania, T=Tonga, F= Fiji).

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Front Row
Nick Wallace Glendale Raptors AB, R, T, F
Phil Thiel Life Rugby AB, R, T, F
Olive Kilifi Seattle Sarcens AB, R, T, F
Angus McClellan Davenport University R, T, F
Eric Fry Newcastle (England) AB
Mate Moeakiola Castenet (France) AB, R, T, F
Benjamin Tarr Souths (RC) Australia AB, R, T, F
Tom Coolican Sydney Stars (Australia) AB, R, T, F

The addition of Tom Coolican at hooker on the roster means that Phil Thiel won’t need to carry the positional load alone. Once again Thiel ooked good at the Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) and seems to be getting closer to a pro contract, if the trail with Saracens counts for anything. The props bring an interesting mix. Aviva Premiership prop Eric Fry was shifted to LH, his preferred position, and where he props at club level. Fry was partnered by Olive Kilifi which was good for Fry to get a break. It was not good for the pack as a whole since the US have given away so many scrum penalties or lost on their put in (long before they faced the blackness). Kilifi has yet to prove his ready for this level. With the All Blacks match done, Fry is gone. This means for the next three games the US has 2 kids fresh from the U20 JWC side and a few ARC minutes in Angus McClellan and Ben Tarr. Both promising players so they will likely get the back end of the remaining tour matches. Those getting the front end of the remaining matches will be veteran Nick Wallace who had a decent ARC and Mate Moeakiola. Mate has been in exile in France but the injury to Titi Lamositele and retirement of Shawn Pittman meant an experience TH was a must and Mate is a very experienced and solid scrummager.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Second Row
Hayden Smith Saracens (England) AB
Samu Manoa Northampton (England) AB
Matt Trouville Seattle Saracens R, T, F
John Cullen Seattle Saracens R, T, F
Tai Tuisamoa London Scottish (England) AB, R, T
Louis Stanfill Seattle Saracens AB, R, T, F
Greg Peterson North Harbour Rays (Australia) R, T, F
Lou Stanfill

Lou Stanfill

Manoa and Smith are now back with their clubs. Thankfully Tai Tuisamoa will be around for the first two stops on the European swing. He will could be joined by Lou Stanfill who is can slide in at lock or backrow based on the needs of the team.  John Cullen has been working his way into the lock options discussion for over a year. It has been a position of depth for the USA but you can expect him to see some time in all 3 games, whether starting or bench. The final 2 guys to be looked at for the lock position are Matt Trouville and Greg Peterson. Trouville played well enough during the ARC to deserve an opportunity to prove himself at this level. Meanwhile Peterson is an interesting option as he is still young and challenging in a position that the USA is strong in. However, he is an Australian with good pedigree (grandpa a Rugger, Dad played pro football in the USA) who has declared for the USA so it is best to cap him now, give him some game time and see what we are working with for 2015 and more importantly 2019.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILITY
Back Row
Danny Barrett USA 7s AB, R, T
Todd Clever NTT Communications Shining Arcs (Japan) AB, R, T, F
John Quill Dolphin RFC (Ireland) R, T, F
Cameron Dolan Northampton Saints (England) AB
Scott LaValla Stade Francais (France) AB, R, T
Kyle Sumsion Brigham Young University R, T, F

We were sad that Cam Dolan got injured in training in leading up to the All Blacks game. In addition it looks like Danny Barrett got hurt during it. Dolan is lost for the rest of the tour as an Aviva Prem player and the extent of Barrett’s injuries has yet to be clarified.  It is likely that Captain Todd Clever or Scott LaValla will shift to 8 one of Kyle Sumsion or more likely Stanfill will play 6. The one bench spot will be a horses for course fight between Sumison and John Quill.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Halfbacks
Adam Siddall Old Blue of NY AB, R, T, F
Mike Petri New York Athletic Club AB, R, T, F
Shalom Suniula Seattle Saracens AB, R, T, F

The halfback situation is both settled and settling. It is clear that the starting combo is Mike Petri at 9 and Adam Siddall at 10. Shalom Suniula will be the back-up. The unsettling part is that Suniula is being asked to do both. His preferred position is 10 however his the back-up 9 with no other recognized 10 on the squad, unless Folau Niua is the emergency 10 option. It is possible that before the tour is over a distress call will be sent out for coverage.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Centers
Thretton Palamo Saracens (England) T,F
Seamus Kelly University of California AB, R, T, F
Andrew Suniula Old Blue of NY AB, R, T, F
Folau Niua Men’s Eagles Sevens AB, R, T

The combo of Andrew Suniula and Seamus Kelly will get the fair chunk of the playtime. Hopefully us fans get a chance to see the prodigal son, Thretton Palamo, at 12. Palamo is a younger slightly more dangerous and younger version of A. Suniula. If we can see solid minutes for Niua alongside Kelly or Palamo, things might get electric. Right now he will be an off the bench, change of pace prospect. He can actually play anywhere in the backline so his playmaking ability will be handy in the inside backs of 10, 12, 13 or maybe 15, which we will get too.

NAME CLUB AVAILABILTY
Back 3
Tim Stanfill Seattle Saracens AB, R, T, F
Tim Maupin Trinity College (Ireland) R, T, F
Brett Thompson Edinburgh AB, R, T, F
Taku Ngwenya Biarritz Olympique (France) R, T, F
Blaine Scully Leicester Tigers (England) AB
Chris Wyles Saracens (England) AB
Thompson scored the game winner against Canada

Thompson scored the game winner against Canada

A traditional source of strength will be tested for the USA. The last minute unavailability of Troy Hall due to USA Anti-Doping procedures leaves a huge whole at the back. Star player Chris Wyles and MotM against the All Blacks, Blaine Scully are both back with their premiership sides. The remaining 4 guys are wingers. Tim Stanfill is still trying to prove himself on this level. Brett Thompson played well in the Summer but went off injured against NZ. With a RWC place at stake Z Ngwenya comes back into the mix. Tim Maupin is the only possible consideration at Fullbacks at this level since he has been getting some work there with his club. If an SOS call is going to go out, it will likely be for a FB. It could be Life FB Joe Cowley, who played in last year’s ARC and was a tourist during last year’s November Tour. An interesting idea to mull over is to move the backline swiss-army knife Folau Nuia to FB. That would provide soem cover there though leave the bench and centers thin. This would then mean a possible SOS to Roland Suniula, who is already in France playing for RC Chalon. He could then provide 10-12 cover and leave Nuia free to be the FB. Another option is Nuia to 10, Siddall to 15, but that breaks up the 9-10 combo. There is a growing concern of a dog’s breakfast being made of this situation and that appearance might be fitting.

Phil Bailey

COACHES:

Mike Tolkin – Head Coach
Nate Osborne– 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 coaching team seems to be a same as last year for the most part. Based on the ARC performance for most of the team. O’Brien needs to help Siddall get things back under control and kick with consistency again. Paul Goulding will have plenty of video from the All Blacks match of what they did wrong. How do they correct it going forward and use some of the All Blacks moves against their upcoming opposition.

Nate Osborne; New Attack Coach

Nate Osborne; New Attack Coach

Dave Williams has been a solid S & C coach. No one has mentioned the Eagles being found wanting for power, speed or fitness. Former  NSW star and Aussie Rugby League National team player and hero, Phil Bailey. will be under fire for the high missed tackle count and consistent uneven line rushes against the Kiwis.

The two key coaches that had a successful ARC were forwards/scrum coach Justin Fitzpatrick and Backs/attack coach Nate Osborne. The problem is the Eagles scrum still looks to be the worst in Tier 2, and that is one Fitzpatrick’s key responsibilities. The fact that the Eagle scrum has not improved and his selection of pack players have not led to a better scrum makes its continued struggles criminal. They will get a stern test Romania and Tonga with Fiji being no slouches. Osborne is replacing Billy Millard who stepped down as Attack Coach to concentrate on his duties as USA Rugby AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans head coach and High Performance 15s manager. Osborne comes from Metropolis club in Minnesota and though he had a good ARC the inability to offload and run good angles of support was evident against New Zealand. The attack looked toothless and rudderless and we can only hope that against weaker competition like fellow Tier 2s we will see his ability shine through.

The pressure continues to remain on Head Coach Tolkin. He doesn’t have a winning record and has struggled against higher ranked Tier 2s. Beating Romania is a must as well as stealing one against Fiji or Tonga. It will go a long way to helping his detractors stay quiet and the program generate some good energy going into the Summer and the RWC.

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, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.

And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.

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About the Author ()

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.

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