Veteran wing Vaea Anitoni is set to make his record-breaking 46th appearance for the Eagles, and center Juan Grobler rejoins the starting line-up. They represent virtually the only changes to the side. In the front row, a rotation system continues with Joe Clayton and Ray Lehner starting at prop this week and Kirk Khasigian at hooker. Prop John McBride and hooker Robbie Flynn will be ready to come off the bench.
"Since it is our last game in the Pacific Rim, our goal is to play to the potential we've shown throughout the competition," said head coach Duncan Hall. "To do that, we have to adapt to the power and pace of the Island teams."
The USA began the Epson Cup season with gritty victories over Japan and Canada, but then lost matches to Fiji and Tonga on this month's swing through the South Pacific. The Eagles felt they were competitive in both defeats, however, and morale remains high.
At 2-2, the USA are in a 'spoilers' role this week. Manu Samoa must win the contest at San Francisco's Balboa Park to overtake Fiji in the Epson Cup standings, otherwise the Samoans stay in second place.
After dispatching Italy in Apia last week, the Manu Samoa side are solid favorites against the Eagles, however, they will be mindful of their previous encounter with the USA. In last year's Epson Cup, Samoa narrowly edged the Eagles 27-20 in Apia.
The day's rugby at Balboa Park includes semi-final action from the Northern California club 7s championships. The Berkeley Old Blues face San Mateo I and Sacramento squares off against San Mateo II prior to the test match.
United States: Kurt Shuman; Vaea Anitoni, Philip Eloff, Juan Grobler, Malakai Delai; Grant Wells, Kevin Dalzell; Joe Clayton, Kirk Khasigian, Ray Lehner,Philippe Farner, Luke Gross, Olo Fifita, Kort Schubert, Dave Hodges (captain). Reserves: Jovesa Naivalu, Link Wilfley, Mose Timoteo, Don Younger, Matt Kane, John McBride, Robbie Flynn.
© USA National Rugby Team
Scott Compton, Media Relations
Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse
Berkeley, California 94720 4426
phone 510.643.1971 / fax 510.643.2192