CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The USA Men's 7s team confirmed what RUGBYMag reported earlier this week, that Rocco Mauer will replace the injured Maka Unufe for the fifth round of the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas, Nev.
Despite a disappointing tournament in Wellington, Head Coach Alex Magleby is optimistic about the way his team has been working since the start of the Residency Program in Chula Vista, Calif.
“We just have to play a bit more intelligently and take advantage of the work that’s been done in certain situations,” he said.
Unufe, who scored one of the IRB’s ‘Seven of the Best’ tries last weekend with his match-leveler against England with time expired, will be replaced by Mauer, who played for the Eagles Sevens during last year’s Sevens World Series.
“Unfortunately, this is the second time in a row Maka has been injured on day one and we haven’t had him for day two,” Magleby said. “He is a special athlete and a lot of what we do revolves around him. The other guys stepped up [in Wellington]."
“Rocco is a different type of wing; he’s pretty fast. In Hong Kong last year he did some really good things. We certainly have Carlin [Isles] and other guys that can fill the positions Maka would.”
Andrew Durutalo and Blaine Scully each return from the Wellington squad after coming back from injuries. Scully scored a try in the Eagles’ loss to Wales in the Shield Semifinal.
“Since they hadn’t been playing for so long, they were both looking for that first touch and wanted to be involved,” Magleby said. “That will come with time and getting back in the flow. I thought they did really well.”
Pool D groups the Eagles with Australia, Samoa, and Spain. The Eagles reached the Bowl Semifinals in last year’s Las Vegas Sevens and hope to do even better in front of the home crowd this year.
“We look at it as returning home and using the energy of our home crowd to do good things,” Magleby said. “That’s what our crowd deserves; they deserve to see the team that represents them play with a lot of passion and execute well.
“We look forward to delivering. We’re excited to be home.”
The Eagles Sevens will open their Las Vegas Sevens schedule against Australia at 6:34 P.M. Pacific Time on Friday, February 8. NBC Sports and Universal Sports will be broadcasting the tournament. Check here for times.
USA Men’s Eagles Sevens | Las Vegas Sevens
Matt Hawkins (Captain)
Eagles Schedule | Las Vegas Sevens
vs. Australia – 6:34 P.M. PT Friday, February 8
vs. Samoa – 9:30 P.M. PT Friday, February 8
vs. Spain – 2:34 P.M. PT Saturday, February 9