Falcons, Serevi Set for LVI
Falcons, Serevi Set for LVI
USA Men's 7s Head Coach Mike Friday has named his USA Falcons team for the Las Vegas Invitational, and the selections carry with them some important stories.
The Falcons made the final of the Men's Elite 7s in 2014, losing in a close game to the Serevi Selects. The Serevi team looks to be one of the favorites again, and we've listed their roster below.
The most important name out of the USA Falcons team is Jojo Tikoisuva. The recent HS All American player also qualifies for Fiji and this fall, not brought into the 7s camp, he was invited to train with the Fijian 7s team. This would have been a massive loss for the USA if Tikoisuva had stuck with the Fiji team. He's very young, and wasn't expected to be picked by Fiji, and he wasn't. But if he had been, he would have been off limits to the USA. USA 7s HP Director Alex Magleby was prodded from several fronts to give Tikoisuva another look - Magleby's logic had been that Tikoisuva was young, and there was time to develop him. However, with Tikoisuve potentially thinking he'd play with Fiji, the timetable had to be changed. So he's playing with the Falcons now, and if he plays well, he's in the USA system.
Also of interest is Mataiyasi Leuta, one of two players who earned camp invitations after the open recruitment camp. Leuta gets his chance to play against tough competition, and it's game performance coaches need to see. Leuta is joined by the other player from the open recruitment camp, Ahmad Haraijly, who did so well in the team assembly he was picked for the squad to go to Wellington. As Friday told Goff Rugby Report here, Harajly's inclusion with the Falcons, and not the Eagles, is not a demotion, but just Friday wanting to see the former Dearborn Silverback play more minutes.
Also of interest: Zach Pangelinan and Colton Cariaga are somewhat the same player - small, shifty, skilled, and they've been around for a while. Pangelinan is a bit more mercurial, while Cariaga has less experience at the major international level. Both are playmaker-types in the mould of Madison Hughes.
Mike Te'o and Stephen Tomasin are somewhat the same player - both are tough, burly bodies who can run faster than you'd think. Both have played for the USA team, but their other-ness as players makes them difficult to find a place for. Both make things happen on the field, but Friday seems to like tall, rangy guys, and these guys are more rhino and less impala.
“I am very excited that the Falcons are here in Vegas and there are a number of the boys who are pushing to be included in the next roster and this is the stage to play a marker,” Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday said. “We will be tracking all the games of the Falcons over the weekend and I am expecting them – with the talent they have – to put in a very competent, comprehensive sevens performance in every game and I expect them to still be in the mix at the end of their tournament.”
“The LVI provides a good opportunity where many of the athletes in the national player pool have a chance to compete with each other in front of multiple selectors and a home crowd,” USA Rugby National Sevens Director Alex Magleby said. “Not only for the athletes selected to the Falcons team, but many we left on their ‘home’ high performance teams where it made sense to do so.
“There are national team-caliber players amongst most of the LVI Elite division teams. It will be productive to see them compete with each other as we head into the second half of the Series, as well as an opportunity for a pool of sevens coaches to get another chance to develop in higher-level tournament select-side play.”
USA Falcons | Las Vegas Invitational
Name Club/School High Performance Team
Colton Cariaga Life University Life NDA
Ahmad Harajly Detroit Tradesmen RFC
Will Holder Army World-Class Athlete Program - Army
Mataiyasi Leuta California State University, Monterey Bay
Zack Pangelinan Old Mission Beach Athletic Club Tiger
Detwan Robinson Life University
Aladdin Schirmer Central Washington University AIG Men's Collegiate All-Americans
Mike Te'o Belmont Shore Residency / Tiger
Jojo Tikoisuva Sacramento Lions Boys High School All-Americans
Stephen Tomasin San Diego State Residency
Jack Tracy Belmont Shore Tiger
Brett Willis Glendale Raptors
The Falcons play the following teams in their pool:
v Laie Lions - Thursday, Feb. 12 - 12:20 p.m. ET
v Cayman Islands - Thursday, Feb. 12 - 3 p.m. ET
v Elite Selects 1 - Thursday, Feb. 12 - 5:40 p.m. ET
Nese Malifa, who took the Falcons to South America last month, leads the team again. Tui Osborne is his assistant.
USA Falcons | Coaching Staff
Nese Malifa - Head Coach
Andrew 'Tui' Osborne - Assistant Coach
Kevin Ng - Physiotherapist
The main competition for the Falcons will be the Serevi Selects. This team is stacked. Ten out of the 12 players have played international rugby, while the two tat haven't, Kellen Gordon and Ben Landry, are All Americans. With Tomasi Cama, formerly of New Zealand, joining the squad, the Serevi Selects have the #1 all-time Sevens World Series scorer (Ben Gollings), and the #2 guy (Cama). They have speed in Tim Stanfill and Rocco Mauer, playmaking ability in Gollings, Cama, and Shalon Suniula, and a ton of power, led by John Cullen, Gordon, and Landry. And boy do they have experience. If the old guys don't throw a rod, they will be hugely difficult to beat.
Men’s Serevi Selects Roster:
Coaches: Waisale Serevi & Ben Gollings