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Suniula Helps in FH Crisis

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Suniula Helps in FH Crisis

Last year USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin spent considerable time looking for depth at flyhalf. He got both Toby L'Estrange and Adam Siddall in games, worked with them to give himself options, and then saw his options dwindle.

Siddall was invited to camp in Denver, but is still not 100% after dealing with post-concussion symptoms. L'Estrange broke his leg playing for London Welsh. Suddenly, Shalom Suniula, brought into camp as potential depth at scrumhalf, was thrust into the mix.

While Folau Niua and Chris Wyles got some time working at flyhalf, it seemed clear coming into Houston that Suniula was the man for the starting job. Long a scrumhalf/flyhalf in 7s, he continued to be able to play both positions in 15s. In the World Cup Qualifier March 29 against Uruguay, he came on as a sub at the pivot position and set up a try and scored another.

"It's a big opportunity," Shalom told GoffRugbyReport. "I know I can bring my skills to the game to help the team, but with a starting role I have a pattern to play to. I had to do a lot of homework on how we play and I learned a lot."

Getting the calls and approach down is crucial for Suniula, who will start with his older brother, Andrew, on his outside. Once he is settled, he said, "I want to be in a position to let my instincts take over. It's a case of picking my moments - 7s or 15s, rugby's rugby."

What Suniula brings to the team is an excellent sidestep, which enables him to get behind the defense. If he does that effectively, he can then offload to the USA's many big runners to press that advantage.

Suniula made his debut for the USA 7s team when he was just 20 years old, and went on to become the most-capped American 7s player. But he seemed out of favor with the 7s team of late, and moved to Seattle to play for Seattle-OPSB and pursue 15s. At 26 (he turns 26 today, June 5, 2014), he is still a young player, although with a wealth of international exerience. The event of playing against Scotland likely doesn't faze him.

"We haven't heard much about how big the crowd will be but we're expecting it to be good and a good atmosphere," Suniula said. "Above all, we're just excited to play a team like Scotland."