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Seattle 7s Experience Bolstered by Youth

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Seattle 7s Experience Bolstered by Youth

The Seattle Saracens plan to split, somewhat, their squads for the Club 7s Championships and the World Club 7s.

This is nothing new, as the team has been splitting its squad all sumer, sending some players to Canada to play in tournaments there, and others to tournaments around the Pacific Northwest, making sure that enough get time in qualifiers to be eligible to play August 9-10 in Tukwila, Wash. at USA Rugby’s finals.

Coach Ben Gollings said he had to do it, as he was getting 45 to 50 players at practice.

“Ultimately we can only field 12 guys, but we have tried to give as much playing time to players as we can,” he said.

While Seattle is a pretty old and experienced team, with former Southern Utah All American Mike Palefau now a wily veteran, and former Central Washington stars Kellen Gordon and Mike Nelson veterans also, the youngsters provide the much-needed depth.

“We are still getting a lot of players from Central Washington and from the Eastside Lions,” said Gollings. “I think for Nationals, experience is key, but it’s also a case of finding what elements of a team we need. We can have a really good player, but he might not fit in.”

Among the younger or newer players who have shown well is John Cullen, the former University of Utah All American who played rugby as a youngster, played football as a Utes, and then switched back to rugby. Cullen is just starting on an international career, and surprised many with his 7s acumen despite being very large.

Miles Craigwell and former St. Mary’s All American Kevin Swiryn have plenty of international experience. Shalom Suniula is, like Swiryn, a former USA 7s team captain. Former Bowling Green star Rocco Mauer has been capped at 7s and wants to be again. But for all of them, there are players like Central Washington speedster Josh Bower forming a cadre of players still in college who could jump in.

“Our second team consisted of a lot of younger players and they’ve been giving the older players a hard time,” said Seattle Coach Waisale Serevi. “I tell them, what you do now is hit each other as hard as you can. We want to be in a position where we don’t have to go to the IRB Series, they don’t have to go to Vegas to get this kind of tough competition - it’s right here. They keep playing each other in the semifinals in tournaments - last week the score was like 17-14. [The young players] nearly beat us.

“So we have a group of younger players that are capable of going to the next level.”

Some of those may well get a look at the World Club 7s, as Gollings looks to switch up, manage injury, and try to win a national club title.

“There will be a fair amount of similarity between the two teams,” said Gollings. “But we will make changes.”