Newly hired USA Men’s Eagle Sevens head coach, Alexander Magleby, has named the 12 players that will depart on Sunday March 18 for the sixth and seventh stops of the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series. The USA will play in the world renowned Hong Kong Sevens from March 23-25 and the first-ever Tokyo Sevens on March 31 – April 1.
“Hong Kong is an exciting tournament, one of the best, and a great opportunity for us to grow,” said Magleby who has played for the USA in the Hong Kong Sevens before and will soon know what it’s like to coach at the famous tournament.
Captain Shalom Suniula feels that the team is confident and aware of where they stand as a group going into the climax of the Series.
“We’ve got a really good feeling right now. The guys have been working really, really hard to get rid of some bad habits. We’re working on our defense, we still need work and we know that, which is good,” Suniula said.
The captain will lead a corps of capable and experienced players.
Zack Test, Colin Hawley, Mike Palefau, Peter Tiberio, Folau Niua, and Suniula are the nucleus of the team. All six have had flashes of brilliance this season so far and will look to ignite fiery performances in Hong Kong and Tokyo under their new coach.
Two exciting players, Maka Unufe and Andrew Durutalo, though very different in terms of stature and skill set, represent an exciting crop of young talent in the sevens program.
Veterans Mark Bokhoven and Nick Edwards return to the team after missing out on the USA Sevens in February.
Utility back Tai Enosa has earned a call up and will likely see action at flyhalf and scrumhalf in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Nu’u Punimata, the former University of Texas – El Paso linebacker and Old Puget Sound Beach star returns to the fray in the USA forwards. A physical presence with a high work rate, Punimata hasn’t played with the Eagles since October 2011, when Team USA took bronze at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Hong Kong tournament, historically a 24-team competition, will see two parallel 12-team tournaments being played at Hong Kong Stadium. The 12 core World Series teams – teams that compete in all nine tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series, including the USA – are in one competition and 12 aspiring core teams are in the other competition that will decide which teams will be promoted to core status next season.
One result of the change in format is a very competitive pool for every core team in Hong Kong. The Eagles are no exception. The Eagles will play New Zealand (Friday March 23, 5:28 a.m. ET), South Africa (Friday March 23, 10:58 p.m. ET), and Wales (Saturday March 24, 4:06 a.m. ET) in Pool B action.
Success, Suniula said, will be realized by the achievement of small goals that will lead to positive results. One of those small goals is for players to understand their teammates and their tendencies.
“We want to understand the way each other plays. Sevens is a game of anticipation, so one thing we have to do is anticipate one another’s movements,” the captain said.
USA Men’s Eagle Sevens | Hong Kong and Tokyo Sevens
Player (Club; Hometown)
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle Wa.)
Nick Edwards (Sydney University; Sydney, Australia)
Tai Enosa (USA Rugby; San Diego, Calif.)
Colin Hawley (USA Rugby; Trowbridge, Calif.)
Folau Niua (USA Rugby; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Mike Palefau (Unattached; Salt Lake City, Utah)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wa.)
Shalom Suniula (USA Rugby; San Diego, Calif.)
Zack Test (USA Rugby; Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (USA Rugby; Naperville, Ill.)
Maka Unufe (USA Rugby; Provo, Utah)
Unavailable due to injury:
Blaine Scully (USA Rugby; Sacramento, Calif.)
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