BOULDER, Colo. -- With the Women’s Eagles Can-Am series rapidly approaching, Pete Steinberg gives an inside look as to what he is anticipating from his squad during the 11-day tour in Vancouver. While there, the team will square off against host Canada twice in what will be the first preparatory fixtures heading into the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014.
USA RUGBY (USA) – In less than a month, you and the Women’s Eagles will be returning from the Can-Am series, the first tests of the year – how do you see the series fitting into the World Cup preparations and what does it mean to the Women’s Eagles moving forward?
PETE STEINBERG (PS) – The Can-Am is very important for our preparation. It is a chance for us to paly a quality opponent and to test out our systems and approaches. We have a squad that has been together now for a while and we are excited to build on last summer.
USA – As you just mentioned the matches will be the first since the Nations Cup in July, with that, how do you foresee the team playing?
PS – Even though we have been together a lot, in terms of camps and assemblies, this will be eight months since our last competition. We are going to review our approaches to play and hopefully tweak them a little and see how it works. The tests will be a great way to see where we stand and how our work off the pitch has been going.
USA – Having defeated Canada during Nations Cup, how do you see them responding during the two matches?
PS – I think for the Canadians, the Nations Cup was the first competition for a while and you could see them grow over the course of the competition. They beat a good England team in the Final, one that we lost to. Like all of the Can-Am games they will be physical and close.
USA – With an identical schedule and locations to the matches as the 2010 Can-Am series and a history of the Women’s Eagles struggling in matches in the Vancouver area, what must you do differently to see different results?
PS – This is a different program and different squad, but there are certainly common challenges. Just the travel to Vancouver is hard and of course playing in front of your home crowd is a boost. We simply need to stay focused on our development and we need to grow throughout the assembly to have the results that we want.
USA – Due to the lack of international competition, what aspects of the game will you key on or deem as the most important to the team during the two matches?
PS – We always lead with our defense and physical play, but we also want to enhance our set piece. We struggled with the new scrum law at the Nations Cup and the lineout is always a challenge. We would like to see growth in our set piece and then use that as a good place to launch our attack.
USA – With utilizing this series as a way to make player assessments, what expectations have you or will you set for the players making the trip?
PS – This is a slightly younger squad than we have had before. Strong veterans like Jamie Burke and Kitt Wagner are not in the squad, so we are looking for younger players to step up and show that they can play. Tess Kohanski and Sam Pankey are two players we are excited about having with us and seeing how they handle the competition. Amanda Kingzett gets a chance to push for a spot in the most competitive position we have: the back row. And young backs like Erin Overcash and Jacie Vonada are going to have a shot at showing what they can do. We want to see how these younger players fit in and if they can express themselves.
USA – What will you note to the players that do not make the Can-Am traveling list?
PS – Their chance is at the Top-50 Camp in May. That will be the major selection vehicle for the World Cup.