NORTHAMPTON, England –USA Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan has named his lineup for the Churchill Cup opener against the England Saxons at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday June 4. Kickoff is at Noon ET and will be shown LIVE online at www.universalsports.com and on tape delay on Universal Sports at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
“We are looking forward to the first game of the 2011 Churchill Cup. As it has been our first Eagles assembly since last November, we have been training twice a day since our arrival to make the most of our time together," said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles will be captained by experienced scrumhalf Mike Petri, who pairs up with his New York Athletic Club (NYAC) teammate, Troy Hall at flyhalf. O’Sullivan will be looking for Hall to marshal the backline, with the talented playmaker slotting in for veteran Nese Malifa. In the centers, Junior Sifa is partnered with Tai Enosa, who is one of seven players to join the squad after the recent HSBC Sevens World Series.
The Eagles will have a very fast backline with wings Mile Pulu and Colin Hawley working together with Mike Palefau at fullback. Palefau has had an outstanding season with the Utah Warriors and will certainly be one of the players to watch.
In the forwards, the hard-working Eric Fry starts at prop alongside Will Johnson. The latter – who plays at London Irish – will be very used to the English conditions. Following an excellent Super League season for Life, Phil Thief will get a start at hooker.
Scott LaValla is set to start at lock, with the Trinity College captain having recently signed a contract with one of the top French clubs, Stade Francais. John van der Giessen returns from his cheek injury to partner LaValla in the second row.
The flankers are Pat Danahy and Daniel LaProvette, who also faced each other in the exciting Super League final. JJ Gagiano completes the pack at No. 8.
Chris Biller (hooker), Shawn Pittman (prop), Louis Stanfill (flanker/lock) and Inaki Basauri (flanker) make up the forward reserves. The backline replacements include brothers Roland (flyhalf/center) and Andrew Suniula (center) and Tim Usasz (scrumhalf).
"The team to face the Saxons reflects the fact that we need this tournament to continue as part of our preparations for RWC. It is an opportunity for a number of players, who have limited experience with the Eagles up until now, to test themselves in what will be a very tough environment against a strong Saxons side," said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles starting team will feature six players; Palefau, Pulu, Sifa, Hall, Johnston and LaPrevotte, that did not take part in the November tour last year.
USA EAGLES TO FACE ENGLAND SAXONS
15 Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors)
14 Mile Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate)
13 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
12 Junior Sifa (Nottingham RFC)
11 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
10 Troy Hall (New York Athletic Club)
9 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club, captain)
1 Eric Fry (Las Vegas Blackjacks)
2 Phil Thiel (Life University)
3 Will Johnson (London Irish)
4 John van der Giessen (Utah Warriors)
5 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
6 Pat Danahy (Life University)
7 Danny LaPrevotte (San Francisco Golden Gate)
8 JJ Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town)
16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)
17 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
18 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano)
19 Inaki Basauri (L' Aquila)
20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC)
21 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
22 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
USA EAGLES STAFF
Eddie O’Sullivan (Head Coach), Dave Hodges (Forwards Coach & Technical Analyst), Matt Sherman (Backs Coach), Mike Tolkin (Defensive Coach), Dan Payne (Skills Coach), Fiore Screnci (Scrum Coach), Chris O’Brien (Kicking Coach), David Williams (Strength & Conditioning), Tristan Lewis (Team Manager), Alex Garibay (Physio), Dennis Greenhill (Physio), Sarah Sall (Masseuse), Pat McNair (Doctor, June 1 to 9) David Schneider (Doctor, June 9 to 18)