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Tolkin Assesses 'Quins, On to Australia

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Tolkin Assesses 'Quins, On to Australia

David Barpal photo.

Mike Tolkin still has a few selection headaches to deal with as his team prepares for Australia at Soldier Field.

He held out Hayden Smith and Scott LaValla from Sunday’s clash with Harlequins due to injury, and certainly you’ve got to wonder if the two professional forwards will be ready this weekend. On the plus side, Samu Manoa looked spry, and several other players looked more comfortable in their roles.

We caught up with Tolkin after he’d had a couple of days to study the 24-19 loss to the Harlequins. The Eagles Head Coach said he liked what he saw. 

“I was really pleased with the Quins performance,” said Tolkin. “We had a lot of possession, line breaks, good shape in attack, solid defense, and physicality. The part of our game that needed improvement was finishing - making better decisions and executing.”

While the Eagles did impress with a nice stop of a Harlequins maul early in the game, Tolkin also added that “we need to dig in better in defending mauls close in.”

So now a look ahead to Australia, a team that will bring the full force of a squad that swept the Rugby Championship this year. The Qantas Wallabies will be more adventurous out in the open field, and so discipline in defense will be crucial.

“We would like to put pressure on them on both sides of the ball and make them work for everything they do,” said Tolkin. “We want to do things on our terms and moving forward rather than reacting and absorbing.”

It’s likely that the USA lineup to face Australia will reflect Tolkin’s top squad. But if LaValla and Smith can’t go, certainly there will be room for Danny Barrett (didn’t play against Harlequins). And of course look for Chris Wyles to return to fullback and the role of captain.

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