USA National Rugby Team


Lineup Shuffled for Fiji Match

(Berkeley, California) 20 May 1999 -- Flyhalf David Niu starts his first international, as the US slightly juggles its lineup to face highly ranked Fiji in Saturday's Epson Cup match at San Francisco's Balboa Park.

Niu, who gained his first cap as a replacement in last weekend's win over Tonga, comes in for injured Mark Williams, who tore a tricep muscle early in the contest. The veteran Aspen pivot returned home this week, expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks of action.

The desire to look at several players combined with niggling injuries account for four other changes to the lineup. Alec Parker replaces Philippe Farner at lock; Alatini Saulala moves to inside center and Juan Grobler comes in at outside, sending Mark Scharrenberg goes to the reserves bench; and Kurt Shuman replaces Chris Morrow at fullback.

The US coaching staff is approaching the Epson Cup with one eye on each week's match and one eye on October's World Cup, US manager Rick Humm said in announcing the team.

The starting openside flanker remains to be named, pending fitness testing, Humm said.

Epson Cup newcomers Fiji, one point ahead of the US in the Epson Cup standings by virtue of scoring six tries in a 40-29 win over Canada last week in Vancouver, will be playing its first test on American soil. Propelled by dangerous wing Fero Lasagavibau, Fiji downed the touring United States 18-9 last July in Suva.

In the US backline, Kevin Dalzell teams with Niu, while Saulala and Grobler pair for the first time in the centers. Shuman, who started at fullback against Argentina in August 1998, is joined by wings Vaea Anitoni and Brian Hightower.

In the forwards, George Sucher, Tom Billups, and Ray Lehner are unchanged in the front row. Parker teams with Luke Gross in the second row, and Dave Hodges and captain Dan Lyle are named in the back row.

Anitoni and Billups both reach a milestone Saturday, each appearing in their 37th match for the United States to break a second-place tie with long-time cap leader Kevin Swords. Prop Chris Lippert, who surpassed Swords's record last June, stands at 38.

United States: Kurt Shuman; Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Alatini Saulala, Brian Hightower; David Niu, Kevin Dalzell; George Sucher, Tom Billups, Ray Lehner, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Dave Hodges, to be named, Dan Lyle (captain). Reserves: Chris Morrow, Mark Scharrenberg, Britt Howard, Dougald Gillies, Jason Walker, Bill LeClerc, Kirk Khasigian.

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Scott Compton
USA National Rugby Team
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