USA Men's 15s Head Coach Mike Tolkin will pare down his squad Sunday night and Monday to face Canada for the World Cup Qualifiers.
All of the players, including the overseas pros, are in camp now:
Of these, perhaps the most unknown is Maryland Exiles prop Robert Garvis. His presence is further evidence that Tolkin is looking at options up front.
Absent due to injuries, retirement, work, or other issues preventing them from being available are: Adam Siddall, Paul Emerick, James Paterson, Zach Pangelinan, John Quill, Mate Moeakiola, and Inaki Basauri.
What that means is there will be a tense contest for the outside center job. In addition, there is a dearth of goalkickers to back up Chris Wyles. Andrew Suniula can kick, and so can Robbie Shaw and Folau Niua – who is getting his first look with the 15s Eagles. But the best backup goalkicker has to be Shaun Davies, who could well work his way into the 22 thanks to that ability.
Currently the starting lineup for the Eagles looks like this:
1. Shawn Pittman, 2. Chris Biller, 3. Eric Fry, 4. Brian Doyle, 5. Lou Stanfill, 6. Samu Manoa, 7. Scott LaValla, 8. Todd Clever, 9. Mike Petri (or Robbie Shaw), 10. Toby L'Estrange, 11. Luke Hume, 12. Andrew Suniula, 13. Seamus Kelly (or Roland Suniula), 14. Taku Ngwenya, 15. Chris Wyles.
There is little debate, really, on those names. It's likely that Blaine Scully will make the 22, and Zach Fenoglio will almost certainly patrol the bench as a front-rower. Who else? Well it depends on how many in the front row Tolkin will use, and whether he wants to carry a full-fledged lock (Graham Harriman), or someone who can play second or back row (Cam Dolan), or a specialist flanker (Peter Dahl) what with Manoa and LaValla both capable of locking up if there's an issue with Stanfill or Doyle.
But more than that, this group knows they need to execute. Tolkin said earlier that the players looked refreshed and that some of the Eagles who were a bit out of form in June look better and more on top of their game now.
Certainly that needs to be the case. Ball control, accurate play on offense, improved communication, and better chases on kicks have to be on the list of things to nail down this week.
It is very warm in South Carolina where the team is training, and it will be warm and humid this weekend in Charleston. But the team has said repeatedly that they were frustrated with how poorly they played in June. Now, they said, is the time for them to show how good they can be.