Flanker Dan Lyle and wing Vaea Anitoni lead a young team trying to rebound from three tough road losses. Recently named captain, Lyle heads a forward pack that also features locks Luke Gross and Alec Parker and backrowers Rob Lumkong and Richard Tardits. Anitoni, who's scored four tries in as many games this season, joins Andre Bachelet and Matt Alexander in spearheading the backline.
Jared Allen, Jared Hopkins, and Joe Grubb join the team for the first time. Allen (US Naval Academy) and Hopkins (Stanford University) each come from the collegiate ranks, while Grubb joins the team from the Kansas City Blues. Still another newcomer may be added later, but the US teams that meet Hong Kong and Japan will of course require just 21 players, 15 startes and 6 reservists. Bringing extras into camp facilitates practice while acting as a scouting tool for the coaching staff.
To defeat their Asian rivals, the US must recover the precise brand of rugby that led to a 19-12 win over Canada in San Francisco on May 11. Earlier this month, mental errors and penalties crippled the Eagles in 22-19 and 24-18 defeats to Hong Kong and Japan, respectively. The US has also struggled to surmount a rash of injuries.
Two wins should lift the US to a second-place finish. "I'm anxious to return home, get on with things, and take the next step in our development," Head Coach Jack Clark commented after announcing the team.