Nigel Melville stated in an interview with Rugbymag that the Eagles 7’s will have 13 players under full contract with three more under partial contract (meaning they won’t get as much money). So far, the only revealed player of the bunch is Luke Hume, who has relocated from New York to join the team. But who are the rest of the players?
Here are is a list of the players that travelled with the team to Dubai or South Africa (those that were contracted have a star next to their name): Carlin Isles*, Nick Edwards, Brett Thompson, Shalom Suniula*, Zack Test*, Matt Hawkins, Folau Niua*, Jack Halalilo, Luke Hume, Nate Augspurger, Colin Hawley*, Maka Unufe*, Mike Te’o.
Of those players under contract all but Unufe are likely to return. Unufe has signed a contract with a players agency in hopes of getting into the NFL. Carlin Isles could get a contract in Europe, but it’s just as likely he’ll keep his 7‘s contract. Coupled with Hume’s signing, this means that six of the 13 spots have been occupied.
Other players that were under contract but not with the team in Dubai or South Africa include Blaine Scully, Andrew Durutalo, Rocco Mauer, and Taylor Mokate. Scully is close to returning from his Achilles injury and there has been no indication that he hasn’t kept his contract. He has been out awhile, but when he did play, he was one of the team’s best players. Durutalo’s return is a few months off, but as he showed last season, he is crucial to the team.
Mokate suffered an injury playing for the Eagles Selects in the Americas Rugby Championship but never really fit into the 7’s game. He has been let go from his contract to pursue other opportunities. Mauer has also been released from his contract but will continue to compete for a spot on the team. Mauer is certainly explosive but needs to show more consistency in order to re-gain his contract.
Scully and Durutalo bring the total up to eight spots. Going back to Dubai and South Africa, it would seem likely that Nick Edwards, Brett Thompson, Jack Halalilo, Mike Te’o, and Nate Augspurger have done enough to earn contracts. The question among this group is whether each of them will receive full or partial contracts. Edwards history with the team and new American passport make him a likely candidate for a full contract. The same could be said for Thompson and Augspurger.
Halalilo and Te’o are bigger question marks. Halalilo played well in South Africa but was it enough to earn a contract? Te’o has shown flashes and is a player for the future but he may also be a strong candidate for a partial contract. He is from Southern California and has the freedom to train with the team. Another candidate for partial contract is Matt Hawkins, who currently works with Serevi Rugby. Like Te’o, he lives in the area and has more flexibility. Halalilo could be an option for a partial contract as well.
Assuming (it’s all speculative at this point) that Thompson, Edwards, and Augspurger have all gained contracts, and that Te’o and Hawkins are on the partial contracts, that puts 11 players under full contract and two under partial contract. So who gets the last two full contract spots and who gets the last partial contract?
Some of the candidates that warrant mention are Zach Pangelinan, Tai Enosa, and Peter Dahl. All have recently played with the team (as well as the 15’s team) and could step into a larger role. That being said, all have Southern California roots and could be partial contract options. Ryan McGoldrick was linked with a 7’s contract last month so he can’t be put out of the picture. Danny Howard has also trained with the team. Alex Magleby may also give a contract to someone who is a relatively unknown to more people but has shown well in camp when given the opportunity.
Of course there is always that option that a player like Peter Tiberio may return to the team after taking a break or that a college player could earn a spot, but with the new academy system and taxi squad, these players will have to earn their stripes before playing for the Eagles.
Of the players we have mentioned above, the most likely candidate in our opinion for a full contract is Tai Enosa. He has been around the team before and is healthy once again. Our guess is that Halalilo gets the second spot and that Dahl or Pangelinan gets the last partial contract. Again, these are just guesses.
Who do you think will get a contract? Why?
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