Alex Magleby could announce his twelve players for the Wellington and Las Vegas leg of the IRB Sevens Series as soon as tonight. The question on the minds of fans is who is going to be on the team?
Over the first three legs of the IRB Sevens Series Magleby has used seventeen different players with only six players playing in every stop: Matt Hawkins, Zack Test, Shalom Suniula, Maka Unufe, Brett Thompson, and Carlin Isles. Of those six players, only Hawkins and Test have played in every match with only Hawkins starting every match. Of these six players Hawkins, Isles, Test, and Thompson seem the most certain. Suniula was benched in the last part of the South Africa 7’s and now faces tough competition from the many other halfbacks currently in camp with the Eagles. Unufe has been rumored to be looking to move to the NFL but has signed a contract with the team and has been in training. Regulars Colin Hawley and Luke Hume have missed stops on the Series this season for their own reasons (Hawley was rested and Hume was with the Eagles XV’s in Europe). Both are key parts of the team, contracted players, and are good bets to start.
One of the biggest factors heading into Magleby’s selection is health. Andrew Durutalo and Blaine Scully have returned from their long-term injuries while Tai Enosa has also returned to training. Durutalo provides a big body that has been missing since Mike Palefau left the team for work reasons and Scully is one of the brightest young players in the U.S. system. Still, they both suffered long-term injuries and may not be up to match fitness or sharpness. That is up to Magleby to decide, and if they are fit, they will definitely be in discussion for consideration. The same holds true for Enosa, who is one of the savviest players on the Eagles.
Other players who have played with the Eagles on the Series this season include Nate Augspurger, Peter Dahl, Nick Edwards, Jack Halalilo, Rocco Mauer, Folau Niua, and Mike Te’o. All but Dahl have been in camp with the Eagles this week along with eighteen guest players. Only three players from the extended camp have remained with the team: youngster Madison Hughes (who was expected to remain with the team during his break from school), Gabe Adler, and Pila Taufa. Taufa has reportedly shown well according to Rugbymag’s Pat Clifton and could be in line for consideration. He is a speedy wing that has size.
Out of these available players, who will make the team? Locks to make the team are Hawkins, Hawley, Isles, Test, and Unufe. The rest is more of a question. In the forwards, Durutalo, Scully, or both should return and provide size. Hume has a bit of a knock but should still be in the team.
The real battle is in the halfbacks where Niua, Suniula, Enosa, Augspurger, and Te’o are fighting it out. Throw in the fact that Magleby likes to use Hume in one of the roles and it could squeeze some of these players out. Suniula, Niua, and Enosa all have experience. Niua especially seems to be a favorite of Magleby for his smart decisions. Suniula provides leadership but hasn’t been his best the last few tournaments and could lose his spot. Augspurger and Te’o are talent and very young. Augspurger may have shown enough in the last two stops to earn a chance. Te’o is probably on the outside looking in. Magleby may take all of these players or he may opt to take the best athletes regardless of position.
Of the other players, Edwards provides experience but hasn’t always done the little things necessary to win. Halalilo stepped in well when Unufe went down with a concussion in South Africa and that may have done enough to earn him a chance.
So with all that in mind, here is who we have:
Locks: Hawkins, Hawley, Test, Hume, Isles, and Unufe.
Likely: Scully, Durutalo, Suniula, and Niua.
On the edge: Halalilo and Taufa.
Outside looking in: Augspurger, Enosa, Te’o, Edwards.
This team is one of the biggest the Eagles have taken to a IRB Sevens Series stop in a long time but is also one of the most experienced. That size also packs a lot of pace with Isles, Hume, Unufe, Halalilo, and Taufa all capable of burning opponents.
But this is just our guess. Magleby may opt to take a player like Zach Pangelinan, who has been playing very well as of late. He could also take someone that hasn’t been on the radar to most fans. Either way, it’s fun to think about who might be on the team.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The Barbarians are one of the top invitational rugby sides with a long history and classic rugby jersey.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Lions get ready for their matches with this green training jersey. It's what the players wear. Get in the Gear!
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 Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
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.