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MacGinty Critiques His Eagle Debut

National Teams

MacGinty Critiques His Eagle Debut

AJ MacGinty on the move against Samoa. (Photo: Dave Barpal)

AJ MacGinty was frank about his Eagle debut: Samoa was brutal; there were some nerves to overcome; he made mistakes. But the flyhalf also showed some spark. He played a different game in the second half and helped rally his team to within a try of Samoa, while also keeping the visitors off of the scoreboard. The game ended in a 21-16 loss, but positives, like MacGinty, were certainly realized.

“The first half was very physical,” MacGinty confirmed. “I haven’t been used to that – ever. I got a taste of it in South America [with the USA Selects], which was a good test. You just don’t know what to expect [for your first test]. The first half didn’t go according to plan; I made a lot of mistakes. But at halftime, it was a very positive chat. It was, ‘We can turn this around; we just need to stick to our game plan. Let’s pull our way back into the game.’”

Part of that game plan was tactical kicking, and although MacGinty has been lauded for his boot, he made some questionable clearance choices in the first half.

“Every time we kicked the ball away, it wasn’t on our own terms,” MacGinty reflected on the first half. “They were very good at keeping the ball in hand. I maybe was a little too eager to get out of our half, so I forced the kick. One led to seven points – they [Samoa fullback Ah See Tuala] ran it right back. So in the second half, we kicked better, kicked on our terms, and had better structure to get up in their face.”

MacGinty himself enjoyed a couple of linebreaks, and after slotting three penalty kicks, nearly crossed for the USA’s try (the break did put the Americans in good position for Titi Lamositele's try).

“Mike Petri made a great break and I got the pass,” the flyhalf remembered the surge. “I saw the line, I could have gone for it, but I pulled back. And then I could have got a pass away [to Chris Wyles] but I didn’t. We had them pinched in; they were tight. I could see Mike trying to pass me the ball, but it was closer there, and he couldn’t get the pass away. It could have been on on two or three occasions. That’s a case of our composure; you get tunnel vision. But that’s an easy fix – more composure, more communication from me to the inside. Just realizing where the space is.”

MacGinty displayed better field vision in the second half, and the squad was able to better express itself offensively as a result.

“In the second half, when we moved the ball a bit with our backs, we gave them a crack at them,” MacGinty said. “We had some one-on-one opportunities to get over the gainline, and those were some opportunities that we just didn’t have in the first half. On my part, I just didn’t move the ball well in the first half. We have a great back three – even the guys that came in were really good. We have really good backs, and it’s just a case of me not getting them the ball at all in the first half.”

MacGinty zoned in on what he could have done better; he wants the job, and he also has faith in the players working outside of him. He’s certainly done enough to warrant intrigue, and hopefully there's more playing time for the flyhalf during the remainder of the Pacific Nations Cup. Game two for the USA occurs next Friday, July 24 in Sacramento.

View more USA v Samoa photos here.

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