UPDATE: Blake Burdette has been released from the Men's Eagles squad effective immediately due to a recurring knee injury.
He will be replaced on the squad by Oliver Kilifi from Seattle-OPSB Rugby Football Club.
BOULDER, Colo. – Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin has selected 33 players to be available for the three matches of the November 2013 Tour, beginning with the nearly-sold out match against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks at Philadelphia’s PPL Park Nov. 9.
Twenty-six players will be in assembly in Penn. next week, including international professionals Todd Clever, Scott LaValla and Andrew Suniula. Luke Hume also returns to the Eagles after a trial with Gloucester Rugby late in the summer.
Tbilisi will host the Eagles and Georgia Nov. 16 and Saracens’ new Allianz Park will be home to the Eagles when they take on Russia Nov. 23.
The Eagles are coming off of successive defeats during the summer campaign, while the Men’s Eagles Select XV placed second at the IRB Americas Rugby Championship in Oct. with wins against Canada and Uruguay.
“I was very pleased because we got some of the more experienced players more playing time and we got some young, up-and-coming talent some exposure to that level,” Tolkin said.
Cameron Dolan, Toby L’Estrange and Phil Thiel, who were members of the Eagles during the Summer Tour, each captained the Selects for a match during the ARC and will be with the team for all three matches next month.
“We wanted to give each of those guys some time of grabbing hold of the leadership position,” Tolkin said. “We felt they each did a good job of leading the team and guiding some of the younger guys along. I thought it was a good experience for them.”
Other standouts from the ARC taking spots on the November Roster include Joe Cowley and Tim Maupin, who combined for 25 of the Selects’ 30 points in the 30-10 win against Canada last month. Cowley has company at his position of fullback with Adam Siddall scheduled to be available for all three matches and Blaine Scully and Chris Wyle being made available for the European leg for the Tour.
“I think that any team has to be prepared for all circumstances,” Tolkin said of the selection. “Whenever you can get depth like that you’re more prepared for any circumstance that comes your way.
“We know [Cowley and Maupin] show great potential to move into these spots. Things change pretty rapidly in international rugby and, if we’re ready for it and we have competition coming from below, it’s a healthy environment.”
John Cullen, former University of Utah football player, was a late call-up to the ARC and will travel with the team in November. Joining Cullen is former Utah Men’s Rugby Head Coach Blake Burdette. Burdette made his Eagles debut back in 2006 against Uruguay in South America and has earned nine caps in his career.
“Blake brings a lot of experience,” Tolkin said of the 33-year-old prop. “He is a great athlete in his own right and that’s why he was an Eagle the first time around. He’s a great player to bring into the front row. It’s nice to have a veteran in there who’s been through it to bring experience and leadership and a real competitive quality he had the first time around.”
Brian Doyle, Liam Murphy, John Quill and Louis Stanfill are all unavailable due to injury, while Danny Barrett was also unavailable for selection. Samu Manoa, Scully and Wyles will join the team in Tbilisi for the second match of the Tour.
The three November tests will be the final tune-up before the important 2015 Rugby World Cup Qualifier playoff against Uruguay next March. The Selects defeated a near-full Uruguay side 20-8 at the ARC last month.
The 2012 November Tour was the first time the Eagles had won a test series in over a decade with wins against Romania and Russia.
“Last year we were certainly thinner,” Tolkin said. “We had a good tour and guys played well, but we were a lot thinner. Going into this tour, we have more depth. We’d like to get back into winning ways and tag on the back of our performance at the ARC. And we’d like to establish who our top 15 and top 23 are going into the Uruguay playoff.
The Eagles’ first match against the Maori All Blacks will be shown on FOX Sports 1 Sunday, Nov. 10, at noon ET. It will also be live-streamed on FOX Soccer2Go and shown live on FOX Soccer Plus. Click here for more information. Visit the #USAvMaoriABs page for a full list of events, contests and ticket information.
Follow the Eagles on Twitter @USARugby during their travels for live updates.
Men's Eagles | November Tour Roster
Men's Eagles | November Tour Coaching Staff
Mike Tolkin - Head Coach
William (Billy) Millard - Assistant Coach
Justin Fitzpatrick - Assistant Coach
Phil Bailey - Assistant Coach
Dave Williams - Assistant Coach
Chris O'Brien - Kicking Coach
Paul Goulding - Video Analyst
Matt Schmitz - Doctor (v Georgia, v Russia)
Marc Kowalsky - Doctor (v Maori All Blacks)
Richard Quincy - Physio
Zach Vyhananek - Physio (v Georgia, v Russia)
Rob Wassilak - Physio (v Maori All Blacks)
John O'Donnell - Physio (v Maori All Blacks)
Sarah Sall - Massage Therapist (v Maori All Blacks)
Tristan Lewis - Manager
Men's Eagles | November 2013 Tour
v New Zealand Maori All Blacks - Philadelphia, Penn. - Nov. 9 - 7 P.M. ET
v Georgia - Tbilisi, Georgia - Nov. 16 - 5 A.M. ET
v Russia - London, England - Nov. 23 - 10 A.M. ET