This is part two of a two part series examining who is in contention for a spot on next season’s U.S.A. 7’s team.
Yesterday in part one of our two part series on the Eagles 7’s fall roster, we took a look at who played for the team last year, who had a contract, and who is confirmed to have a contract this season. Today, we look at some players that may challenge for either a contract or a spot on the team.
It’s important to note that just because a player may be a consistent starter on the team doesn’t mean they would make a good candidate for a contract. For instance, yesterday it was pointed out that Mike Palefau was one on the best players all last season. However, because he has a business in Utah, a family to take care of, and he will be a bit older in 2016, he isn’t a prime candidate for a contract. But a player like Taylor Mokate, who is young and without ties, is a good candidate. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential members of the team.
Capped for the Eagles 15’s:
Will Holder: Will be a senior this year at West Point ruling him out for a contract. However, in order to be a part of the Army’s Olympic training program he may need to be a part of the 7’s team. Still, it won’t just be for 15’s consideration; Holder would make an excellent 7’s player and could earn a look based on his play alone. Availability is the only thing holding him back right now.
Luke Hume: Has played 7s before with English team pups and could be a perfect fit for the team. He’s quick, aggressive, and has experience. Would he be willing to relocate to San Diego? That’s the big question, but being only 24, he would be an excellent choice to sign a contract.
Toby L’Estrage: Like Hume, L’Estrage came to the U.S. and played rugby. He was called into 15’s camp only to suffer a broken arm before he could get there. He has plenty of experience playing for NYAC and Sydney University. If he wants to continue to stay in the U.S. and play rugby, a 7’s contract might be the way to go.
Paul Emerick: A fantastic player who could be called back into the team, but will likely not get a contract because of his age. Plus, he’s pretty entrenched in the Life program while earning a degree.
James Paterson: Another player that is young and could fit well into the team. His experience in Super Rugby would be a plus. That said, he is working for his father in Colorado and is enjoying the facilities Glendale has to offer (he’s been injured this summer). Could be called into the team but will not be offered a contract.
Played for Atlantis in Victoria:
Ryan Roundy and Shaun Davies: Both players played very well for Atlantis and both recently graduated from BYU where they led their team to a championship. Players like Roundy and Davies are exactly the type of players the 7’s program is looking to bring in. They have no ties and could be willing to move to San Diego. The biggest question for these to players is do they have the skills to earn a place on the team? A big summer at the NASC and other venues could be the decider.
Brett Thompson: Unsure if he graduated or still has time at the University of Arizona. Thompson had a fantastic tournament with Atlantis and helped Tempe to a good showing last weekend in Southern California. If he is in school who could emulate the path of fellow Wildcat Peter Tiberio who took classes online while living in San Diego.
Don Pati: In the same situation as Thompson but already with a load of experience. It seems that Pati has been talked about as a prospect for the national team, either 15’s or 7’s for a long time. Now may finally be the time for him to earn his chance. Reports say he played well in Victoria, and he has played extremely well for the Utah Warriors and the College All-Americans in the past. He is still an undergrad and that will likely mean this year is not the year he gets a contract.
Brett Willis and Carlin Isles: Both are a bit of a project as they transition to rugby. Harris has been playing very well in Sacramento and could earn a call-up. Isles has been playing for Aspen and tore up Victoria even though it was only his third ever rugby tournament. His speed is game changing and he is reportedly a very good tackler. However, both players may need more time, and if they are put into an Aspen program that develops them, they will probably not get a contract.
Nate Brakeley: Recently graduated from Dartmouth and will be very familiar to Magleby. He is a big forward that could add strength to the Eagles. He would make a great candidate for a contract as a forward, but is $20,000 enough for a player that probably has good options in the private sector?
Madison Hughes and JP Eloff: Both will receive contracts one day, but both are still in school so that day will have to wait. There is no question that either player could instantly contribute to the Eagles and both could very well be starters in 2016, but not in 2012.
Cam Dolan: Like Brakeley, Dolan recently graduated. He has previous experience playing on the IRB Sevens Series and would be a great presence in the forwards. Of all the available All-Americans, Dolan is the most likely to earn a contract. However, contracts are earned, not handed out, so Dolan will have to prove he deserves a chance at residency.
Tim Stanfill: The recent Central Washington graduate has been playing for OPSB and has shown very well. He’ll get his chance to make his case in the club championships and could push for a spot in the team. He would fit in well alongside Tiberio, Hawley, and Zach Test.
Trevor Tanifum: Burst onto the scene at the 2012 CRC with a boatload of pace. He absolutely took over matches and caught the eye of everyone involved. He also recently graduated and a would be a perfect candidate for residency. However, having come over from England, is he Olympic eligible?
Gareth Jones: Currently playing with Schuykill River where he led them to a Mid-Atlantic title and a nationals berth. He’s a bit older and that probably means no contract, but could be considered for the team.
Dewon Reed: The Glendale speedster is a great player, but is he better than other options on the wing?
Peter Sio and Leonard Peters: Both players are now based in Hawaii. Sio has been active and enjoyed a bit of a career resurgence that could see him get a look at the team. Peters stepped away from the 7’s team a few years ago but may be ready to give it another shot.
James Aldridge: Another football convert playing for Aspen. Aldridge has now has several years to become accustomed to rugby and is looking fairly sharp. If he can get invited to the NASC and play well he may get a shot at the team, but almost certainly not a contract.
Mile Pulu: Has plenty of experience and has been a tremendous player on the IRB Sevens Series. Injuries have slowed him down a bit, but he is still incredibly dangerous and fairly young. He would be a great addition to the team and to the residency program. But is he willing to relocate?
There are certainly plenty of other choices out there and more will likely surface. But out of these players, as well as the players profiled yesterday, who would land a contract? Let’s say there are 12 contract to hand out, here is who I think would likely get them.
1. Taylor Mokate
2. Tai Enosa
4. Zach Test
5. Colin Hawley
6. Shalom Suniula
7. Rocco Mauer
8. Folau Niua
9. Maka Unufe
10. Cam Dolan
11. Ryan Roundy
12. Shaun Davies
That’s a pretty competitive group that would certainly push for playing time. Players like Andrew Durutalo and Mike Palefau, who will not be getting contracts, are certain members of the team, but those twelve contracted players are young, have experience, and are hungry for a starting spot. It’s also likely that with injuries and other factors, more non-contracted players will see time. Luke Hume and Toby L’Estrage and good candidates for that, as is James Paterson. You also have to think that Nate Brakeley will get his chance.
What do you think? Who would you give a contract?
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.