The USA Selects team has arrived in Seattle, and will run a series of two-a-days, culminating in a short scrimmage with the Seattle-OPSB team on Monday afternoon.
All the players have reported and after med check went through fitness testing on Saturday morning.
With significant time constraints before they take the field Friday evening against the Argentina Jaguars, the USA team does not have the luxury of folding in layers upon layers of offensive players.
“We will take a simple approach,” said USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin. “We don’t want people to be unsure. And if we put in too much then you run the risk of players not being on the same page. So we will make sure we have a simple game plan down.”
Key for the team’s offensive approach, and with the full USA team struggling to score points, offense is a big issue, will be the decision-makers. Tolkin has held detailed meetings with all the players suiting up at the halfback position.
“I have spoken to all but a couple of the players by phone,” said Tolkin. “We talked about my expectations for each position, and the key performance indicators for that position, and what we’re looking for in terms of the team. But I also reached out early to the decision-makers. The tactical decision-makers will be really important to how we implement our plans.”
Tolkin has three flyhalves in camp – Toby L’Estrange, Adam Siddall, and Max de Achaval – and he will play all three, although the coach said he will not necessarily start all three. There will be significant competition at that position.
With flyhalves and everyone else, there is competition for places with the full Eagles. Last year’s ARC team did see players move up to the big squad, but that was in part because Tolkin had a desperate need. This year, depth is a little better, and Tolkin is looking for players to help turn a scoring-impaired Eagle team.
That starts, though, with an improved performance at the ARC.
“Last year we were very young and we needed the veteran guys to help them,” said Tolkin. “This year we have a bit more leadership. Last year we were starting from Square One, and we didn’t have a deep list of players at all. So we had guys still in college, guys who hadn’t played in months, and guys I didn’t know. This time, I know every guy here, many are established players or dominant on their team. We have talent and leadership. “