(Sydney, Australia) 19 July 1999 --The USA named a side mainly comprising reserve players to face Emerging New South Wales on Wednesday, with three players set to see international action for the first time.
The USA's relative lack of experience and limited preparation time has head coach Jack Clark wary of the clash against a NSW team boasting its share of Super 12-contracted professionals and former internationals, but the goal is to prepare the squad for the World Cup.
"It's no secret that we have limited depth in the United States and limited exposure to top-level competition, so Wednesday's team will be up against it," he said in announcing the side.
"We've a couple of veterans in key positions which should lend some stability, but the biggest concern is the team's lack of big-match experience. With all of that said, the boys can't wait to test themselves."
In the backline, fullback Chris Morrow and outside center Juan Grobler will be called on to lead a unit with little exposure to representative-level rugby. Wing Ben Trautwein, inside center Toby Robson, and flyhalf Dave Stroble will make their first starts for the Eagles while left wing Andre Blom and scrumhalf Britt Howard have had few opportunities this season.
Youngsters Joe Clayton and Kirk Khasigian get the nod at loosehead prop and hooker respectively, while reserve prop Bill Le Clerc starts at tighthead. The lock pairing of Luke Gross and Alec Parker should be a strength for the US, but flankers Shaun Paga and Dougald Gillies have seen only limited action for the US. Number 8 Rob Lumkong is a veteran who returns to the international stage after a knee injury held him out of the Epson Cup Pacific Rim series.
The US coaches believe the Australians have an edge going into the match thanks to their relative wealth of rugby experience, versus the Eagles team with 10 of the starting 15 making their first or second appearance of the season.
"This leg of the tour has had its share of difficulties concerning accommodations and training facilities," said Clark. "I'm not positive it has been the right preparation for our Rugby World Cup campaign, but if we can achieve any degree of success in this situation, it will be a real confidence booster."
The last time the USA fielded a midweek side against seasoned competition was in Nandi last year. Fiji's second side, the Warriors, romped to a 72-10 victory.
United States: Chris Morrow; Ben Trautwein, Juan Grobler, Toby Robson, Andre Blom; Dave Stroble, Britt Howard; Joe Clayton, Kirk Khasigian, Bill Le Clerc, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Shaun Paga, Dougald Gillies (captain), Rob Lumkong. Reserves: Ray Lehner, Tom Billups, Dave Hodges, Tasi Mounga, Kevin Dalzell, David Niu, Kurt Shuman.
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