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Selects Named to Face Fiji Warriors

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Selects Named to Face Fiji Warriors

JP Elf gets the start at flyhallf. Colleen McCloskey photo.

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - The USA Rugby Selects lineup to face the Fiji Warriors on Saturday has been picked. 

Head Coach Ray Egan has named Joe Taufete'e as starting hooker and gameday captain, choosing a capped Eagle and World Cup veteran who also played for Egan in the Belmont Shore U19s and senior men's club system.

The Selects managed to get to Uruguay before Hurricane Matthew his Florida - where they had been training - and are now looking to face the Warriors, who won the 2016 Pacific Challenge tournament, defeating Tonga A and Samoa A in the process.

Saturday's Americas Pacific Challenge action begins at 11:30am ET with Canada A v an Argentina XV. Then the USA Selects face the Fiji Warriors at 1:15pm, and finally Samoa A plays Uruguay A at 3:30pm.

The USA game will be available behind the pay wall on The Rugby Channel http://www.therugbychannel.tv.

Joining Taufete'e in the USA Selects front row is Mason Pedersen, who was another youth standout in Southern California, and Demecus Beach, already capped for the Eagles and previously an All American at Davenport.

The second row is largely untested, as BYU's Matt Jensen, who made such a splash for the All Americans this summer, joins Siaosi Mahoni, a 6-8 lock who played for Penninsula Green and was a High School All American before getting a PRO Rugby contract. Mahoni is only 19. In the back row, Harry Higgins is a hard-hitting former Arkansas State University All American who is originally from Australia. He wears #6 and Pat Blair, a multi-skilled, hard-working Tacoma Nomads U19 product wears #7. Blair has been capped at 15s and played for the USA 7s team, as well, and was a 7s All American at Central Washington. At No. 8 is the physically imposing Sione Tui'halamaka, who had serious NFL aspirations before life intervened. He's an impressive athlete.

Previously capped at 7s, Stephen Tomasin is looking to make a splash at scrumhalf, and the former San Diego State player partners with former Davenport All American JP Eloff. Eloff will almost certainly be taking the kicks at goal.

The midfield is mature and an exciting pairing, with 7s impresario Martin Iosefo wearing #12, and outside him, former Royal Irish star and current University of Indiana captain Bryce Campbell. Campbell has not played internationally other than the All Americans, but he's a smart player and a leader.

Some 7s experience arrives in the back three, with Matai Leuta getting a shot at wing, and Brett Thompson also on the wing. At fullback is Mike Te'o. 

Te'o can play almost anywhere, but told Goff Rugby Report "I feel really comfortable in the back three. That versatility is a good thing to have in your back pocket. I am really looking forward to playing the Fiji Warriors. We're all looking to play our best and get into the full Eagles camp."

The reserves bench has Hanco Germishuys, a loose forward well into his adulthood, in a spot normally reserved for the backup hooker. Germishuys is aggressive, strong, and low to the ground, and could be a superb addition in the front row.

Only three backs are in the reserves; two are halfbacks in Cal grad Nick Boyer and Gonzaga HS and former Maryland star Ben Cima. That leaves the tall former 7s player Ahmad Harajly as the other back reserve.

Of this group, 16 played rugby in high school in the US: Pedersen, Taufete'e, and Te'o - Belmont Shore U19s, Beach - Toledo Celts, Mahoni - Penninsula Green, Blair - Tacoma Nomads, Campbell - Royal Irish, Thompson - Tempe, Germishuys - Westside (Neb), Wenglewski and Al-Jiboori - Union (Okla.), Maughan - Charlotte Tigers, Ostberg - Stony Point (Texas), Boyer - Jesuit (Calif.), Cima - Gonzaga HS, Haraijly - Dearborn (Mich.)

And 15 have played college rugby in the US: Pedersen and Thompson - Arizona, Beach and Eloff - Davenport, Jensen - BYU, Higgins - Arkansas State, Blair - Central Washington, Tomasin - San Diego State, Iosefo - Montana, Campbell - Indiana, Wenglewski and Al-Jiboori - Lindenwood, Maughan - Life, Boyer - Cal, Cima - Maryland.

 

USA Rugby Selects to face Fiji Warriors
1. Mason Pedersen
2. Joseph Taufete'e (c)
3. Demecus Beach
4. Siaosi Mahoni
5. Matthew Jensen
6. Harry Higgins
7. Pat Blair
8. Sione Tu'ihalamaka
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Jean-Pierre Eloff
11. Mataiyasi Leuta
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Brett Thompson
15. Mike Te'o

Reserves
16. Hanco Germishuys
17. Chance Wenglewski
18. Alex Maughan
19. Christian Ostberg
20. Malon Al-Jiboori
21. Nicklas Boyer
22. Benjamin Cima
23. Ahmad Harajly

USA Rugby Selects | Coaching Staff
Ray Egan - Head Coach
Shawn Pittman - Assistant Coach
Chris O'Brien - Assistant Coach / Video Analyst
Alex Ross - Strength and Conditioning
Mark Sakr - Team Doctor
Kevin Ng - Physiotherapist
JD Stephenson - Manager