Likely USA Selects Squad for Americas Pacific Challenge
Likely USA Selects Squad for Americas Pacific Challenge
The USA Selects team that will go to Uruguay to play in the Americas Pacific Challenge will be a team of college players and young up-and-comers, led by a few players with a small number of caps.
USA Rugby has not released the roster, but Goff Rugby Report has obtained a player list we are fairly sure is close to the final roster.
Malon Al-Jiboori. Union HS (Okla.) and now Lindenwood University. Mostly a No. 8, he was D1A Player of the Week in late January, and is in his second season with Lindenwood. He players for the HS All Americans and the USA U20s. He is
Demecus Beach. Toledo U19 (Ohio) product who went on to play for Davenport, Beach is a powerful prop who made his USA debut Feb. 20 against Chile.
Patrick Blair. Tacoma U19 (Wash.) and Central Washington, he was an All American at CWU and helped lead them to a 7s championship, before being capped several times for the 7s team. A hard-working flanker, Blair earned his first 15s cap against Chile on Feb. 20.
Nick Boyer. Jesuit Sacramento (Calif.) and Cal. Boyer was the try-scoring spark who helped win the Varsity Cup final for Cal this past May. He was part of the USA U20 team that won the JWRT in 2012, and is a very talented scrumhalf who brings size (he's 6-2) to the position.
Bryce Campbell. Royal Irish (Ind.), Indiana. Still part of the IU team, Campbell is the team captain and was a nominee for the Scholz Award last season. Hes a powerful, intelligent center.
Ben Cima. Gonzaga HS (DC), Maryland. Cima is a superb goalkicker and experienced flyhalf who helped Gonzaga win national titles, and then was a standout for the USA U20s. He has several clutch kicks to his credit, including the game-winner for USA U20s over Canada last winter. But his game is more than just kicking.
JP Eloff. Davenport (Mich.). Jean Pierre Eloff is the younger brother of longtime USA center Phil Eloff. The younger Eloff helped take Davenport University to prominence. There he was a flyhalf and an All American, but can also play center. He played for the Ohio PRO team this past spring. On Feb. 13 against Canada Eloff earned his first USA cap, and in his second USA game, scored a try while kicking seven conversions.
Cecil Garber. A native of Virginia, Garber is a hard-hitting flanker who led the San Diego PRO team in tackles this season.
Hanco Germishuys. Westside (Neb.). Germishuys was a HS All American and USA U20, needing a waiver to get on the U20s because he was actually younger than the normal age (18-20) for that team - he was 17. Germishuys is a quick, aggressive, opportunistic flanker who could become a useful hooker with more work. He was the captain of the USA U20s in the recent Junior World Trophy, and while the USA struggled at times, Germishuys was named the tournament MVP. He made his USA senior debut Feb 27 against Brazil.
Ahmad Harajly. Dearborn Silverbacks (Mich.). Harajly answered a call for an open tryout for the USA 7s team and was one of only two players chosen from that first combine. The Michigan-trained athlete played for the USA 7s team, but didn't stick, and finished this past season with the Ohio PRO team. He's a tall, rangy player who can slot in several positions.
Harry Higgins. Arkansas State University. The Australian-born Higgins is a powerful flanker who was an All American with ASU, and now plays for Old Blue in New York.
Martin Iosefo. Montana. Iosefo started playing rugby in Hawaii and was a superb addition to the USA 7s team, earning a Dream Team selection at the Canada 7s. He's a center in both 7s and 15s, although he could be a wing in 15s.
Matt Jensen. BYU. The Pennsylvania native turned heads during the recent Collegiate All American tour with a couple of tries and some impressive work around the field. The 6-8 lock brings much-needed height to the team.
Matai Leuta. Cal State Monterey. Like Haraijly, Leuta made the USA 7s team from an open tryout. Like Haraijly he is tall, has a long stride, and is a versatile player with a good mix of pace, physicality, and ability in the air.
Siaoso Mahoni. Penninsula Green (Calif.) Life West (Calif.). The Hayward, Calif. native was a HS All American and then a USA U20 player. At 6-7/6-8, he is tall, athletic, and has high-level experience.
Alex Maughan. Charlotte Tigers (NC), Life University (Ga.). Maughan was a collegiate All American at prop and has had experience playing with and against men's team players.
Christian Ostberg. Stony Point (Texas), Life University (Ga.). Ostberg was another HS All American who went onto the USA He then moved to Europe and started playing pro, working his way up the ladder of teams in Italy and then England, before signing with Stade Aurillacois in France's Pro D2. The 6-5 lock is only 22 but has been playing pro for a couple of years now and has enormous potential.
Mason Pedersen. Belmont Shore U19s (Calif.), Arizona. The University of Arizona prop played with the San Diego PRO Rugby team, as well, and was a standout with the All Americans on their tour of Australia.
Aladdin Schirmer. Eastside Lions (Wash.), Central Washington University. Schirmer made his USA 15s debut Feb 27 against Brazil and scored a try. He repeated the feat a week later against Uruguay. Schirmer was a huge part of CWU's success for five years, and ended up captaining the Collegiate All Americans on their tour os Australia - during which he was brilliant again.
Joe Taufete'e. Belmont Shore U19s (Calif.). Big for a hooker, Taufete'e makes it work and is one of several former Belmont Shore U19 players on this squad. Taufete'e came to the Eagles as an impact-sub prop/hooker who could run hard with the ball and would be passable at set piece. Now with seven caps under his belt, he has shown himself to be more than just an offensive threat.
Mike Te'o. Belmont Shore U19s (Calif.). Te'o was part of that successful 2012 USA U20 team and has played hooker, prop, scrumhalf, wing, center, and fullback at some of the highest levels in American rugby. Now with the San Diego PRO team, Te'o is likely to be a fullback for the USA Selects, but a fullback who can provide cover at scrumhalf if needed. He has been capped by both the USA 7s team and 15s, with six 15s caps to his credit at present. That makes him one of the most experienced players on this squad.
Brett Thompson. Tempe U19s (Ariz.), Arizona. Thompson played football and rugby at Arizona and then became a contracted 7s player with the USA team. Thompson was also a HS All American, and collegiate All American. Injuries - and especially trying to come back too soon from injuries - have curtailed his stats, and while he made his debut for the USA over two years ago (scoring the game-winning try for the USA over Canada), he has been capped only five times since then.
Sione Tu'ihalamaka. Arizona (football). A big man who came from Southern California, he missed out on an NFL look because he was shot (no seriously). He re-found rugby and despite being a massive body ended up a No. 8 (rather than a prop) for the San Diego PRO team. He could well be the Samu Manoa story of this trip in terms of a big player trying to find his way and getting his chance.
Jake Turnbull. Turnbull is one of the few overseas products in this squad. He grew up in Australia and played for Eastern Suburbs before coming to the USA to play for the Denver PRO team. He's a prop with an excellent pedigree.
Chance Wenglewski. Union HS (Okla.), Lindenwood University (Mo.). Another Union-Lindenwood guy - we start with one and we end with one. Wenglewski was a HS All American and a USA U20 player before making the Collegiate All Americans this year. He's a prop who can move.
Of note in this group is that 18 of the 25 played high school rugby in the USA, and 17 played college rugby, with about half of the players going through the age-grade national team programs. Only one played rugby overseas from childhood past college.
This list is not confirmed, but we're confident it is close. It certainly shows a desire to run out young players, and shows a strong desire from USA senior Head Coach John Mitchell, to find players who are tall.