Cam Dolan returns as captain of the USA Selects, a year after the team he led finished 0-3.
It was a rough tournament last year for the Life University loose forward, as he also sustained a knee injury that kept him out of action for about six months.
“I’d say it’s definitely much different,” said the former USA U20 captain and Life University All American. “Last year we had a completely raw squad. We had a few capped players, but we were really raw. This year we have upwards of 50 or so total caps. The leadership role, there doesn’t seem like there’s as much on my shoulders – Shawn Pittman, Phil Thiel, Toby L’Estrange, and Adam Siddall have helped by becoming leaders on the team as well, and that’s allowed me to focus a bit more on my game.”
The experience and skill level, Dolan said, is higher this year, and in addition, “this is a much more tight-knit team. I think coming off last year we were 0-3 and we finished last. So we’re kind of an underdog, but that gives us more of a chip on our shoulders, I think.”
Tonight the USA Selects play Argentina, a team they lost to handily last year. Dolan remembers that game and says it’s clear to the USA players what they need to do.
“Argentina is known to be a very physical team,” Dolan told RUGBYMag.com. “They are passionate about playing for their country regardless of the sport they’re playing. We need to be physical and get out at the start of the game and bring it to them. We do that in the first 20 minutes we can cause them some problems.”
Last year the lineout was a source of strength for the USA, but they struggled in the scrums and in wet conditions dropped the ball far too much, thus bringing about more scrums.
Possession is critical, said Dolan, not only to control the game, but to stop giving Argentina an attacking platform.
“Keeping the ball out of their hands will be a benefit,” explained the USA No. 8. “We have a great lineout, we have an extremely strong kicking game this year, which we can use to our advantage, and you can expect us to be more physical and hard-nosed this year, too.”