Tokyo, Japan – Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, has made eight changes to his team that started against Canada in Glendale last weekend. The USA will face Japan at 7pm local time on Sunday, August 21, at the Prince Chichbu Memorial Rugby Ground; the match is available LIVE online at UniversalSports.com at 6am ET and delayed on TV at 5:30 pm ET.
“Again we have made a number of changes to selection, as this is our final hit out before Rugby World Cup (RWC) and also our last opportunity to take a look at players before we make the final squad announcement,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles coaching staff will announce the RWC squad of 30 players following the clash with Japan, with one final chance to book their tickets to the third largest sporting event in the world.
Captain Todd Clever, who plays his club rugby in Tokyo at Suntory Sungoliath, is unavailable due to injury.
Scrumhalf Mike Petri will lead the United States this weekend: “I am obviously disappointed for Todd, but I hope to continue the good work he has done, and set an example. I am really looking forward to this opportunity“.
In the forwards veteran Mike MacDonald starts at loosehead prop and will equal the most appearances for an Eagle (62) set by his former teammate, Luke Gross. MacDonald made his debut against Fiji in 2000, and has played in all eight USA matches during the 2003 and 2007 RWC’s.
Phillip Thiel returns to the hooker position alongside Eric Fry, who starts at tighthead prop. Scott LaValla will partner Hayden Smith in the locks, with the loose trio consisting of Patrick Danahy, Louis Stanfill and JJ Gagiano. In the backline, try scorer from last week, Blaine Scully is at fullback yet gain. Kevin Swiryn returns to the wing, together with the experienced James Paterson.
The Otago winger has played in both the ITM Cup and Super Rugby competitions, having represented the USA at the U19 World Championships.
Tai Enosa will join veteran Paul Emerick in the centers. Emerick will move to inside center, with Enosa seeking to create space for his outside backs in the number 13 jersey. Nese Malifa is at flyhalf, and will be looking to control the match with his halfback, Petri.
The reserves will be Chris Biller (hooker), Shawn Pittman (prop) with lock and loose forward cover through Nic Johnson and the uncapped Ryan Chapman. The backline subs consist of Tim Usasz (scrumhalf), together with brothers Roland (utility) and Andrew Suniula (center).
“It will be a tough test game, but exactly what we need before departing for New Zealand.” expressed O’Sullivan.
15 Blaine Scully (Unattached)
14 Kevin Swiryn (Agen)
13 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
12 Paul Emerick (Life University)
11 James Paterson (Otago)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
9 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club) *Captain
1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie)
2 Phillip Thiel (Life University)
3 Eric Fry (Las Vegas Blackjacks)
4 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)
6 Patrick Danahy (Life University)
7 Louis Stanfill (Unattached)
8 Jonathan ‘JJ’ Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town)
16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)
17 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
18 Nic Johnson (Unattached)
19 Ryan Chapman (Utah Warriors)
20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC)
21 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
22 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)