Eagles Assemble at OTC to prep for Wellington, Vegas
The USA Men’s Sevens team is set to assemble at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. for a training and selection camp this Thursday in advance of the third and fourth stages of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Wellington and Las Vegas respectively.
USA Head Coach, Al Caravelli, will have a week to decide on the 12-player traveling squad that will represent the USA in Wellington.
The USA had a productive first Series stop in Dubai, qualifying for the Cup quarterfinals. The Eagles nearly slayed rugby goliaths, Samoa, in George, South Africa during the second stage of the Series. But nearly winning won’t get you far and the goal remains set for the Eagles and Head Coach Al Caravelli: quarterfinals or Series points.
“Our goal is to finish in the top eight this year, bettering our performance from last year. It’s a building block to 2016 and if you want to reach the podium you have to be in the top- three in the world,” said Caravelli referring to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
A lack in mental stamina handed the Eagles unfavorable results in the final stages of both the Dubai and George tournaments. A problem that Caravelli and the squad will be eager to remedy.
“The camp’s theme is consistency and execution. We need to be consistently good. From day one we will be focused on continuity of play and strengthening our defense so we don’t have any lapses when we hit the field,” say Caravelli.
The Eagles had indisputable flare at times, stemming from a combination of real talent, physicality, creativity, and athleticism. Newcomers Miles Craigwell and Nu’u Punimata made a smooth transition to international rugby and are in good keeping with veterans like Matt Hawkins, Marco Barnard, and Mark Bokhoven. Shalom Suniula and Mile Pulu played well and were able to ignite thrilling attacking moves.
“We want to be consistent in the areas we played very well in. Not only consistent in terms of play, but with the consistency of the squad,” said the Coach.
On that note, one man’s misfortune may be another man’s opportunity. Newbie, Pila Taufa, will attend his first camp. Taufa is a Hawaii native and “has an amazing amount of speed and power and a natural style of running,” according to Caravelli.
Eagles 15s coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, gave Caravelli a call from Hawaii where O’Sullivan was conducting a coaching clinic and asked Caravelli if there were any openings at the camp. On that same day, Mile Pulu reported he was injured and so Taufa may fill in at center.
The Wellington traveling squad will be announced on January 26 and the team will depart on January 29 for New Zealand.
The other camp newcomer, Tyler Leith, has been playing at a high level in New Zealand and is a flyhalf that can help replace Nese Malifa, who is recovering from an injury.
USA EAGLE SEVENS PLAYER POOL
Matt Hawkins* (Belmont Shore), Marco Barnard (Kutztown University), Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians), Shalom Suniula (Brisbane), Zach Test (Loughborough University), Miles Craigwell (NYAC / Spearhead Academy), Nuese Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach), Roland Suniula (Unattached), James Aldridge (Spearhead Academy/Notre Dame), Taylor Mokate (Oklahoma), PJ Komongnan (NOVA), Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore), Tyler Leith (Unattached), Zach Pangelinan (Old Mission Bay Athletic Club), Shalom Suniula (Brisbane), Paul Emerick (Unattached), Colin Hawley (Sacramento), Sione “Pila” Taufa (Unattached), Roland Suniula, Gershon Blaise (Unattached), Alex Ross (Old Mission Bay Athletic Club), Justin Boyd (Frisco Griffins)
For more information:
Follow USA Rugby on Facebook and Twitter (@usaeaglesrugby)!
2010-2011 HSBC Sevens World Series:
Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s | Dubai, UAE | December 3-4, 2010
Emirates Airline South Africa 7s | George, South Africa | December 10-11, 2010
NZI Sevens | Wellington, New Zealand | February 4-5, 2011
USA Sevens | Las Vegas, USA | February 12-13, 2011
Cathay Pacific Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens | Hong King, China | March 25-27, 2011
Adelaide Sevens | Adelaide, Australia | April 2-3, 2011
Emirates Airline London Sevens | London, England | May 21-22, 2011
Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Festival | Edinburgh, Scotland | May 28-29, 2011