The USA is settling into training time in Whanganui as they prepare to clash with Ireland Sunday, Sept. 11.
Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan would of course love to defeat his old employers, Ireland, but clearly the Irish are favored.
"We're realistic,”O’Sullivan said Monday. “We've got three Tier 1 nations in our pool and obviously Russia is the big game for us. That's the one we're targeting to try and win, there's no secret about that, and I'm sure Russia have targeted us in the same way."
That approach of course begs the question – will O’Sullivan rest some key players to take on Russia September 15?
"We'll put a good team out,” said the coach. “We'll have a little wriggle room in some positions, but we'll go as close to full on as we can. We need a game, to get guys on the field and experience the atmosphere of the World Cup."
What that means is that the Eagles have some positions where one player may be considered as good as another. They have three specialist locks, and any could start. They have several players who could play at center, and more than two wings.
It is definitely possible O’Sullivan will start some players against Ireland who won’t start against Russia.
Whoever starts, though, has to play to the team’s strengths.
"We've got a lot of ball carriers, some big strong guys, so we try to keep the ball in hand,” said O’Sullivan. “The kicking game isn't our strength, so we tend to carry the ball as much as possible. We have some good ball carriers, especially in the open field."
Adding to that, the coach says the players are excited to get on the field, and it’s now less than a week to the opening match.
"They're in great spirits, they're really fired up. It's a huge occasion for them. These guys have worked their socks off for four years to get here, and a lot of the players have put their lives on hold. They're amateur players who have come here to play on a world stage and hopefully get a contract. If not, they get on with their lives afterwards.”