Do you need a captain? USA National Team Head Coach Mike Tolkin isn't so sure.
Obviously he will need to select one for the games at the Americas Rugby Championship, but having selected a largely young and untried team for the ARC, Tolkin has not selected a squad captain, and doesn't expect to.
Instead, he will require all of the players to step up and be leaders.
“I am looking for leaders,” said Tolkin, who has his charges in San Francisco for a few days before they fly to Victoria, BC for the tournament. “I want to see what they can bring.”
Tolkin says he likes players with what he calls an athletic chip on their shoulder.
“I know guys will make mistakes,” he told RUGBYMag.com. “But what I want are guys who are tough-minded. If they make a mistake are they ready for the challenge – do they want the ball again? It’s not the mistake so much, as how they respond to adversity.”
Tolkin will be asking questions of a number of players – playmakers such as Shaun Davies and Benny Mateialona at scrumhalf, and Gearoid McDonald and Zach Pangelinan at flyhalf. He will certainly want to see how guys like Tom Katzfey, Eric Duechle, Kris Headlee, Graham Harriman, and Nick Civetta at the lock/blind flanker roles.
He will certainly be looking at USA age-grade products Cam Dolan and Taylor Mokate to toughen up, and take control of themselves and the game.
In the backs, Casey Clark is an unknown quantity, but one who has a simple job. The center from Montana who has been playing league of late, is one who, it seems, Tolkin has directed his comments toward. Make mistakes, but keep your head up.
These players have to show they have what it takes to step up, said Tolkin. He has said about some that he wants them to toughen up, or he wants them to be more precise in the tackle, or he wants them to play with confidence. Most of all, though, he wants to see that chip on the shoulder.