(Apia, Samoa) 25 June 1999 -- Showing the effects of a road swing that's stretched from Honolulu to Toronto to Apia in the past two weeks, the United States will make eight changes to its starting lineup for Saturday's Epson Cup match against Samoa.
The Eagles are a bit nicked up after last week's contest with archrival Canada but look forward to the challenge of their first-ever game against Manu Samoa, US General Manager and Head Coach Jack Clark said today in announcing the team.
The chance to play the two-time World Cup quarterfinalists may be the season's biggest challenge to date. Besides its Epson Cup slate, Samoa has also faced New Zealand and France this season, and most of its players come from Super 12 or first division English sides. The hosts are 1-1-1 in league play, having downed Canada, tied Tonga (fresh from their upset win over France), and lost to league-leading Japan.
Much of the backline changes. At scrumhalf, Britt Howard comes in for Kevin Dalzell, and at flyhalf Mark Williams replaces David Niu, who badly scratched his eye last Saturday. Mark Scharrenberg and Alatini Saulala pair at center. Andre Blom makes his first start of the year at wing, joining Brian Hightower, while Vaea Anitoni goes to fullback in place of Chris Morrow, out with a concussion.
In the forwards, Ray Lehner rejoins Tom Billups and George Sucher in the front row, and Alec Parker and Luke Gross again team at lock. In the backrow Richard Tardits retains his place at openside but skipper Dan Lyle moves over to blindside and Shaun Paga comes in at number eight.
Dave Hodges, who wore number six a week ago, takes a breather on the bench while Jason Walker, normally in the rotation, has returned home to Colorado to resume his job as a carpenter. Both Howard and Paga come into the side as the US continues to develop its depth for the World Cup.
United States: Vaea Anitoni; Andre Blom, Alatini Saulala, Mark
Scharrenberg, Brian Hightower; Mark Williams, Britt Howard; George Sucher,
Tom Billups, Ray Lehner, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Dan Lyle (captain),
Richard Tardits, Shaun Paga. Reserves: Bill LeClerc, Kirk Khasigian,
Dave Hodges, Tasi Mounga, Kevin Dalzell, Juan Grobler, Chip Curtis.
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