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Orth, Landry Relish Long Journey to Eagles

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Orth, Landry Relish Long Journey to Eagles

Ben Landry, left, and Brodie Orth, right, get set in the lineout.

One of the many question-marks on the Men’s USA National Team was lock forward; forced to bring in untested players, Head Coach John Mitchell may have hit upon some answers.

With Cam Dolan, Greg Peterson, and Samu Manoa with their pro clubs, and another capped Eagle, Matt Trouville, injured (as Manoa is, now), the Eagles were forced to look Brodie Orth and Ben Landry to man second row. Orth, originally slated to play in the final three USA games, was asked to come to camp early. Landry, often in camp but still on the outskirts, wasn’t necessarily expected to start. Instead, Orth started against the Argentinians and was Man of the Match. Landry joined Orth in a start against Canada, and helped power the Eagles to a victory.

Orth started playing rugby with the Park Hill HS program in Kansas City, Mo. Tall and strong, he seemed to have the physical tools to play at a high level and traveled to New Zealand, Boston, Iowa, Colorado, and then back to Kansas City to play and develop. Mentioned in many conversations as the next big lock to watch, he never quite made it, until now.

Landry played at Kettle Moraine HS in Wisconsin before going on to UW-Plattsburgh and transferring to UW-Whitewater. He represented the USA at HS, U20, and Collegiate levels, but somehow seemed to slip down the depth chart after that. 

“Playing for the Eagles has always been the ultimate goal for me since I started playing,” Orth told Goff Rugby Report. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way and at times it seemed like it wasn't going to happen. I actually stopped playing for an few seasons. I didn't know what to do with myself so I started weight training to fill the void rugby left. After a year I found myself in better shape than I've ever been.” 

The next season Orth rejoined the Blues and decided to make one more push for the national team.

“I was invited to my first camp. It wasn't perfect,” said Orth. “I had my first taste of international rugby and had a long way to go. I started training twice a day and focused on my skills.”

Landry’s story has some similarities. He was in camp with the Eagles, learned a lot, but didn’t quite make it to the Eagles. He joined the Seattle Saracens and hoped training with the USA forwards coach, Justin Fitzpatrick, would get him there.

“I felt like I kept myself in good physical shape,” said Landry. “I just wanted to find a way to get my foot in the door.”

Landry said touring with the USA Selects last year was an important lesson for him and his teammates. They played Uruguay and an Argentinian team twice.

“That was a very new experience for me, and there was kind of that deer-caught-in-headlights moment,” he said. “But we learned a lot. And in the Canada game it didn’t feel all that different. I felt pretty confident.”

Orth felt confident, too. Even when he didn’t make the USA World Cup squad, he continued to train, and was pleased to hear that he was to join the Eagles partway through the Americans Rugby Championship. But when Trouville got hurt, Orth was asked to arrive early. He was ready.

“I had been dropped from the team prior to the World Cup but I kept training anyway,” he said. “When I got the call in January, I was ready. I'm living in the moment now and trying to make the most of it.”

Orth was active in the lineout, played some hard-nosed defense, and was tough to stop on his ball-carrying chances. 

He said he was determined to get the basics right.

“Do your job and make no mistakes,” he said. “I’m still learning and I want to have a better performance each game.”

Moving on to face Canada, the players, while having surprised pretty much everyone with a tie of Argentina, the Americans wanted more.

“There was really the feeling that we could have gotten more out of that game,” said Landry, who was on the bench in the first game. “We had played well at times but we’d also made some mistakes. We felt pretty calm going into the Canada game and through the whole game. We know if we did our jobs, we’d do well.”

Landry and Orth were two of the main drivers in the mauls, which produced two tries against Argentina and three against Canada.

“We knew the maul looked good in the first half,” said Landry, “so we wanted to drive more. On defense we wanted to beat them around the fold, and we did. I felt good about it, and Brodie had a great game.”

So it’s all about pleasant surprises, but the story is also about not settling. The USA have played probably their two toughest games in the ARC, and won one and tied one. There’s still a lot to learn, but you compete to win.

“One-hundred percent we want to win the competition,” said Landry. “We know we have to take it game by game, but we want to win it.”