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Why These Eagles Got Picked

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Why These Eagles Got Picked

We know why this guy got picked - he's got the look. David Barpal photo.

Why did John Mitchell pick the players he picked? We tell you, and tell you what those guys bring to the table for Friday night's clash with the Maori All Blacks.


(All photos by David Barpal except the photos of Civetta and Campbell.)
 

 

Titi Lamositele - He broke a bunch of strength records at Saracens. He’s a professional prop, young, powerful, and has been playing at the highest possible level for his age since he was playing.  Lamo has to anchor that scrum.

Titi Lamositele in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

James Hilterbrand - A specific choice by John Mitchell based mostly on the fact that the Maori is a wide-open-style team, and he needs more players who can cover the ground. Hilterbrand is a more lateral-moving hooker compared to Joe Taufete’e. 

James Hilterbrand in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Chris Baumann - A professional prop honed in clubs all over the world, he’s there to win scrums and make sure the scrums don’t become a penalty sinkhole. 

Chris Baumann in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Nate Brakeley - Mobility. As a flanker, Brakeley isn’t super-fast, but for a lock he covers a ton of ground. Mitchell loves his work ethic, as well he should. 

Nate Brakeley in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Nick Civetta - Lineouts. Civetta has been knocking on the door for a while. He has bulked up in recent years and should be a driver in the scrum )he needs to be) and we hope he’ll partner nicely with his fellow former All American Brakeley. But his #1 job is to win ball in the lineout.

Nick Civetta

 

Todd Clever - He’s the captain. He’s been there. He doesn’t back down. He doesn’t wilt. As a #6 he covers tons of ground. 

Todd Clever in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Tony Lamborn - Reading between the lines of his comments to Goff Rugby Report, it’s clear John Mitchell really likes him. Lamborn gets all over the field, and he’s aggressive, and knows the style of the players the Eagles will be facing. The choice of Clever at 6 and Lamborn at 7, as opposed to Clever at 7 and, say, Brakeley at 6, is a choice based on speed and mobility.

Tony Lamborn in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Danny Barrett - Because we all love Danny Barrett. The Geico caveman with the heart of iron. He has pace. His eightman pick from inside his own 22 is a superb exit move. 

Danny Barrett at the Canada 7s in Vancouver March 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Nate Augspurger - Because he’s earned it. Its an all-encompassing battle at scrumhalf for the USA. Augspurger combines the grouchiness of some with the fitness of few and the accuracy of most. 

Nate Augspurger in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Will Holder - Because there’s no one else? That’s a little harsh and not quite right. Holder is here because Mitchell wants someone he has faith in who can play the game Mitch wants. Holder can do that. He’s a leader, he’s a passer, and he’s a kicker - a clutch kicker. JP Eloff is pushing for this spot. AJ MacGinty is injured. James Bird is just out of the depth chart (but don’t be surprised to see him show up later). Madison Hughes, Folau Niua, and even Mike Te’o could find time here, but Holder impressed with his leadership ability.

Will Holder in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Matai Leuta - Big striding wing who can tackle, catch balls in the air, and follows the ball to where the action is. He will have his hands full defensively.

Matai Leuta in action for the USA rugby team in 2015. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Folau Niua - Because he’s a nice, steadying influence for Holder. More of a 2nd-five-eighth to Holder’s 1st-five-eighth rather than flyhalf-inside center. It’s not that he doesn’t run with power, he does, but he can also kick and pass and slot in as a first receiver. Watch for Holder to drop back as a fullback at times.

Folau Niua in action for the USA rugby team in 2015. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Bryce Campbell - He’s shown he has tons of hustle and loves to bust through the line. He has been given shots at All Americans, and USA Selects, and has not disappointed. 

Bryce Campbell in action for Indiana in 2016.

 

Martin Iosefo - Mitchell went for strength and power and general international experience here, rather than pure pace. Iosefo worked well with Campbell with the USA Selects, and knows how to make an opportunity count.

Martin Iosefo in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Mike Te'o - Because, how could you not have him on the team? He’s shown he can kick, which makes him useful at fullback. But we also think he might be slotting in the line on attack with Will Holder dropping back to fullback. He can score tries, he can set them up, and he is a baller.

Mike Te'o in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.
   
Reserves  

 

Joe Taufete'e - He’s been really good for the last 18 months; a direct runner and a good guy to bring in to power through on the scrum in the final 20 minutes.

Angus MacLellan and Joseph Taufete'e in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Angus MacLellan - Someone we need to see more of at this level. Scrum and lifting his jobs #1 and #1A.

 

Alex Maughan - A mobile young prop who needs to get more international experience.

 

 

Matthew Jensen - Such a nose for the tryline. Big, tall lock still developing, but obviously Mitchell wants to develop guys with height.

 

 

Al McFarland - Experienced guy who gets through a ton of work. You get the feeling Mitchell is telling Lamborn - empty the tank and Al will finish it off.

 

 

Stephen Tomasin - Like Augspurger, a tough, blocky scrumhalf who has developed his fitness in 7s and can handle bad ball.

 

 

Shalom Suniula - An all-everything kind of guy. He can be a flyhalf, or, given how we’re looking at the inside center role, a #12. And he can be a scrumhalf. 

Shalom Suniula in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.

 

Madison Hughes - Like Suniula, can play almost anywhere. We know he was the top tackler for the USA 7s team (and led the entire World Series in points, don’t forget). He is not intimidated. 

Madison Hughes in action for the USA rugby team in 2016. David Barpal for Goff Rugby Report photo.