Selects Ready for Uruguay
Selects Ready for Uruguay
The USA Selects play Uruguay on Thursday after a five days of training in Florida in this, the first outing for the USA program in a World Cup year.
Head Coach Mike Tolkin doesn’t have his overseas players for this tour, but this is an opportunity for players working their way into the Eagles’ RWC squad to get more playing time.
“It took a while for the guys to get really into the swing of things but that’s why we brought them in when we did,” Tolkin told Goff Rugby Report. “We need this time to make sure everyone understands our approach and what we’re trying to do. Most of them have been in camp before, but a few haven’t and we’re excited to see how they go.”
Some of those players new to a USA senior 15s assembly are former West Point All American Ben Leaatigaga, former Life All American Colton Cariaga, and former USA U20s Nick Barrett and Teli Veamatahau.
Tolkin is, of course, looking for athletic ability, but this tour is partly about testing players mentally - going through three tough international games in hostile territory.
“The mental side of things - a player’s character and how he fits in with the team - is very important,” said Tolkin. “We want guys who can be counted on.”
The games they play will be tough. Uruguay is a physical team very good in the scrum, and the Argentina Jaguars, while they have a little more pace out wide, also rely heavily on the boot and the scrum to generate offense.
For the USA team, which always seems to run into trouble in the scrum, this tour is hugely important.
“Our guys need testing, and especially our scrum needs testing,” said Tolkin. “We all need time in tough scrums, and we will get them with these games.”
The players on tour probably fall into three categories - established national team players, players who are on the bubble, and players who are more long-term projects. Some - maybe Nick Batrrett, or Zach Fenoglio, or Ronnie McLean - have a chance to play their way up a level.
There’s also a player who fits into his own category, and that’s AJ MacGinty. While he’s never played for the USA, the coaches know how strong a player he has been for the last several years. Now that he qualifies for the USA on residency, MacGinty is essentially being looked at as an established high-level player, and yet a rookie at the same time.
Certainly on a tour where kicking penalties, marshaling the defense, and find space with the pass and the kick will be crucial, he will have a lot to do.
Notes: Phil Thiel, who provides an entertaining interview in this RuggaMatrix America podcast, will actually miss the first game because of a red card he received in club play.
Several of the players on the tour are missing games with their clubs or colleges. Tolkin said the cubs had been very cooperative in helping him populate this team. "I know it's a hardship but everyone is supportive of what we're trying to do in a World Cup year."
Thursday's game will be against the Uruguay full national team, not Uruguay A.
The USA Selects play Uruguay at Old Christians club on Thursday. They kick off at 7:15pm local time, 6:15pm ET, 3:15pm PT.