CARSON, Calif. – USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin has named a mostly unchanged squad from Saturday’s match against Ireland to take on Tonga at the Home Depot Center Friday, June 14.
Luke Hume is being held out as a precaution after coming off after forty minutes in Saturday’s 12-15 loss in front of a record 20,181 crowd at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. James Paterson, who replaced Hume for the second half of that match, will step in again and partner Takudzwa Ngwenya on the wing.
“Luke is recovering well from an ankle injury but we just want to make sure because we’re going to use him a lot in Japan,” Tolkin said.
Peter Dahl is also recalled for Samu Manoa at flanker, with the Northampton Saint taking a break after a long club season. Manoa will return in August for the two Rugby World Cup Qualifiers against Canada at Charleston’s Blackbaud Stadium and Toronto’s BMO Field.
Former AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Seamus Kelly earned his first cap Saturday and will make his second start against Tonga.
“We know Seamus is a really good talent and he came through his first international start playing a very solid game,” Tolkin said. “We’re confident with having him out on the field.”
Chris Wyles returns as fullback after kicking four penalties against Ireland and Todd Clever will again captain the Eagles as they look to improve their Pacific Nations Cup record against a Tonga side coming off of a 37-26 loss to Canada.
“It’s all about recovery and getting the bodies right after a physical match against Ireland,” Tolkin said. “The first two trainings after we got to San Diego were a little touch-and-go, but psychologically the guys are ready for the game.”
The Eagles battled the elements in their 9-16 loss to Canada in the first match of the new-look Pacific Nations Cup May 25, failing to score a try and giving up one to the rivals to the north.
Men's Eagles | vs. Tonga
1. Shawn Pittman
2. Chris Biller
3. Eric Fry
4. Brian Doyle
5. Louis Stanfill
6. Scott LaValla
7. Peter Dahl
8. Todd Clever (C)
9. Mike Petri
10. Toby L'Estrange
11. James Paterson
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Seamus Kelly
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya
15. Chris Wyles