Defending Men’s National 7s All-Star champions the Pacific Coast will bring a slightly different squad to the tournament August 26-27 in Chula Vista, Calif.
Head Coach John Tyler will not bring Old Puget Sound Beach speedsters Isi Daveta or Fili Botitu, a decision perhaps influenced by the USA coach Al Caravelli’s request to not bring players who weren’t USA eligible.
The squad has not been finalized, but it does appear that OPSB stalwarts Nu’u Punimata, Miles Craigwell and Alipate Tuilevuka will all join the Grizzlies, as will 2010 NASC MVP Mile Pulu from East Palo Alto. Pulu, of course, played his 15s with San Francisco Golden Gate, and three other SFGG players, the speedy Folau Niua, bruising Siupeli Sakalia, and indomitable Mose Timoteo, should also suit up with the PCRFU.
From Utah, Mike Palefau and Jason Pye are unconfirmed possibilities, but all eyes are on the youngster Maka Unufe, previously of the United U19 program and the Utah Warriors 7s team. The rangy back is a supreme attacking talent, and still a teenager.
Unufe was a star of the national U19 final, which United lost to Highland. He scored two tries and was electric.
“Anyone who watched [knows] he is dynamite,” said United Head Coach Colin Puriri after that match. “That kid, he’s got speed, he’s aggressive, he’s got defense. This is only his first real year playing rugby. He’s a local kid, and when he touches the ball, he’s dynamic.”
A few other players, some high profile, could well join the currently incomplete squad, and as always, Tyler has been on the lookout for young, possibly overlooked talent. The coach has a history of plucking players, especially young Polynesian athletes, out of relative obscurity and into the limelight.