Chula Vista, Calif. – USA Men's 7s Head Coach matt Hawkins has named his team of 12 for the USA 7s in Las Vegas starting in a week.
Hawkins has made three changes from the team that played in Dubai and South Africa. Zac Mizell, Miles Craigwell, and Pat Blair are out, and Shalom Suniula, Danny Barrett, and Ryan Matyas are in. Mizell is not in the expanded residency program at the Olympic Training Center as he has to finish his schooling at Arkansas State University. He is expected back in Chula Vista after he is done. Craigwell has not extended his time at the OTC and was not expected to be chosen.
Blair was simply left off the squad in favor of other players - an indication of what Hawkins has said he wants, competition for places.
Hawkins hinted earlier in the week that Suniula might be back, saying some players who had dropped off in form were back playing as well as they had years ago. That seemed to be a direct reference to Suniula, who was dropped by Hawkins for the first three tournaments. Matyas is back after playing well in Gold Coast and then suffering an injury. The center could be one of the USA's best attacking options in the midfield.
The big wild card is Barrett. The former Cal star's form for the USA Selects in 15s last fall was outstanding, but he couldn't join the Eagles because he needed to finish his degree. Now in 7s residency he has, no surprise, impressed. Physical and aggressive, and a player who has been playing 7s for several years, Barrett will not be a surprise selection to close observers.
Nick Edwards, after a shaky time in South Africa, will captain the Eagles at Sam Boyd Stadium, while Zack Test will serve as vice captain.
Pono Haitsuka, Nu’u Punimata and Stephen Tomasin also hold their places with the Eagles for Las Vegas, as do Andrew Durutalo, Folau Niua, Brett Thompson, and Carlin Isles.
the USA will take on Argentina, France, and Spain at Sam Boyd Stadium (tickets still available) in front of what is expected to be another record crowd.
The Eagles have already defeated Spain twice in three legs of the Series, including a 26-7 Shield Semifinal victory at Gold Coast Sevens. The win preceded a 22-0 shutout of Portugal in the Shield Final. The other defeat of Spain came in South Africa in the Bowl Quarterfinal 19-14, though the Eagles exited the tournament in the Semifinal at the hands of England.
France scored in the final minute of its match-up with the Eagles at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens before scoring again after the final whistle to take the Shield Semifinal victory 19-14. The Eagles have not stepped onto the field with Argentina this season, but the Pumas sit sixth in the standings thanks to a Plate-winning performance in Dubai and a fourth-place finish in South Africa.
The Eagles and Pumas will meet in the first Pool D matchup Friday, while the home side’s match against France will serve as the final match of the day. Spain will await the Eagles in the last pool match Saturday before the quarterfinal round begins the same day.
USA 7s Team Squad
Nick Edwards (Captain)
Zack Test (Vice Captain)
Men's Eagles Sevens | USA Sevens
v Argentina - Friday, Feb. 24 - 9:12 P.M. ET
v France - Friday, Feb. 24 - 12:30 A.M. ET
v Spain - Saturday, Feb. 25 - 5:34 P.M. ET