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Samoa Saturday Starts World Cup Year

National Teams

Samoa Saturday Starts World Cup Year

Scott LaValla trying to stop a New Zealand maul. That was 8 1/2 months ago. The Eagles are happy to be back together most consistently now. David Barpal photo.

The Pacific Nations Cup starts, finally, this weekend with the USA hosting Samoa at Avaya Stadium as part of a doubleheader that also includes Canada against Japan.

For the USA players involved, the sentiment seems to be - it’s about freakin’ time.

The players have been enjoying some intense, productive training sessions so far, and all say they are thrilled to be back working with each other again. For some, it’s the first time since November 1 - and that was less than a week together.

That game was against New Zealand. This time it’s going to be less than a to prepare for Samoa, a team that pushed New Zealand to the limit in a 25-16 result in Apia.

Everyone knows that Samoa will bring as much passion and physicality as possible.

“Its always a tough week when we come together and start getting everything organized,” said USA captain Chris Wyles. “It’s really exciting to be back together, and we’ve got this mini season to build something. We don’t know what Samoa team they’re bringing, but we know it’s going to be a great game in a new stadium, and it’s going to be tough.”

“Its going to be a case of we have to worry about us more than anything else,” added USA flanker Scott LaValla. “In the first week you’re catching up and getting everyone on the same page. We’re seeing a general philosophy of how we want to play take hold. That’s good. And for me, success will be when we are implementing the things we want to implement. You’ve got to trust the game plan and not worry about the other team. If you can’t even hit that goal and execute what you’re meaning to do, then you’re relying on a crapshoot.”

Basically, if you can’t run your own game plan, worrying about what the guys in the other jerseys will do won’t help you.

And while all of that is happening and the coaching staff is implementing a new offensive approach, there’s the fact that this is a Rugby World Cup year. Players desperately want to be on that plane to England in September. But that desire motivates players, but can’t be the only thing they think about.

Todd Clever said the current USA squad is more concerned with working together.

“The World Cup is always in the back of someone’s mind,” he said. “But you’ve got to think first, what’s best for the team. I think guys are definitely thinking this way - if you make what’s best for the team your priority, then things will go well.”