Among the strong performances for the USA against Canada this past weekend was lock Hayden Smith.
Now a regular pro with Saracens, Smith was rested during the Churchill Cup as requested by his club, but he’s back in the Eagles lineup now.
The lock forward was sky high in the lineout and made several big players in the open field, including some key tackles and clear-outs. And it was Smith who made a simple but crucial decision to hold onto the ball an extra second to allow a Canadian lazy runner to get past him. Had he not done that, the USA might have gotten a penalty, but there was no guarantee they could have scored a try, which is what they did after Smith made his pass.
It was all in a day’s work for the former All American.
“Was great to get back on the field for the USA,” enthused Smith. “It was my first game since May so was also nice to blow out a few cobwebs.”
Hardest was the set pieces, where the scrum still has some work to do, but the lineout was solid even though Smith has been out of the squad for so long.
“The lineout went reasonably well, but is an area that I believe we can be really strong going forward and we will be looking to continue to make improvements,” he said.
Of course, there is also the little matter of the USA losing the game 28-22 in a match where the Americans gifted Canada most of their points.
“The loss at the weekend was obviously tough but it wasn't lost through lack of effort,” added the lock. “The mistakes we made are fixable and the squad has been positive in just getting back to work and looking to improve.”