The USA men’s 7s team gets another crack at Canada at the Gold Coast 7s, as the Eagles are dropped into a pool with the Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africa.
That’s not exactly a pool for the faint of heart, but it is a pool where some measure of revenge could be exacted for the many close losses the Eagles have suffered at the hands of their northern rivals.
“We love playing Canada,” said USA forward Zack Test.”And we want a chance to play them and show how we’ve improved. Last time we played down to their level, and we have a tendency to do that. But we’re working on that. We like playing against South Africa – they’ve got a great style of game. And we love playing New Zealand because they’re the best, and every athlete wants to measure himself against the best.”
OK, so no problem, then.
The USA team is in camp, with their regular group of contracted players and an intriguing squad of hope-to-be Eagles.
Among them is Peter Dahl, who has been a force for Belmont Shore and is smart, physical, and really savvy in the breakdowns. Mike Te’o has been impressive in workouts, and Marcus Satavu has, also. Newcomer Preston Bryant is just that, a newcomer, but he’s got all kinds of potential.
The guy who has really impressed Test if Brett Thompson.
“He’s got the same kind of game and background as me,” said Test. “His dad was my coach for five years, so I know him well. He’s got the football background and he’s good in the air. He’s one of a bunch of good young boys we have.”
Test said while the new players are trying to break in, those in residency at the Olympic Training Center have settled into a routine. The players work very hard at the OTC. Yes, they are paid, but they are not paid a lot. In fact Nate Ebner, a former USA U20 teammate of Test, signed a rookie contract with the New England Patriots for about 17 times as much as the 7s guys are being paid. Good for Ebner, and Test says he doesn’t focus on that.
“We’re not paid as much as those professional athletes, but we’re OK with that; we’re Olympic athletes, and for us, playing in the 2016 Games is the reward. That’s how all the athletes working toward the Olympics look at it,” Test told RUGBYMag.com. “For us, it’s just great to work together as one team. The glory will come later. It’s just great to work out with the boys every day, get into our routine. It’s a blessing to be able to do that.”