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Only six capped 7s Eagles are partaking in the 22-player high performance camp ahead of the HSBC Sevens World Series opener in Dubai Dec. 2-3. 16 others hoping to earn their first World Series appearance are in tow.
The resident veterans include Perry Baker, Danny Barrett, Carlin Isles, Folau Niua, Brett Thompson and Maka Unufe. Four other Olympic Training Center residents just finished up the 15s team’s November tour and won’t participate in the camp – Madison Hughes, Martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta and Stephen Tomasin. It’s unclear if they will be available for Dubai selection.
Assistant coach Chris Brown is leading the camp, as Mike Friday returns from the November Tour, as well.
"The few new guys have helped bring a little energy and we look forward to getting into Camp this week, where the additional playing numbers will allow us to sharpen up on some of the finer details in better gameplay situations," Brown said in a press release. "It's also key we identify and bring in players who have the potential to compete in one to three years' time to develop understanding and the required physicality of the international sevens circuit."
The lack of experience is most glaring in the forwards and halfback positions. The Eagles could field experienced players at flyhalf, center and wing, but they only have two capped forwards in camp and not a single capped scrumhalf.
Vying for scrumhalf selection will be former Utah All-American Don Pati. He led the Utes to the first-ever Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship title in 2010 and this past summer helped Utah Rugby win club 7s nationals. He’s joined in the halfback battle by Joey Sok, a former Davenport standout who was a contracted resident at the OTC earlier this year.
Hoping to breakthrough in the forwards are the likes of Spike Davis, Alex Faison-Donahoe, Alec Gletzer and Chris Turori. Davis was the steamrolling wing for the Ohio Aviators who led PRO Rugby’s inaugural season in tries. He’s been in several camps before. So have Faison-Donahoe, the Kutztown All-American, and Turori, who’s been embedded at the OTC for years but never broken into a World Series lineup. Gletzer helped Cal win consecutive CRC titles.
One of the more interesting story lines for camp has to be the inclusion of high school standouts Naima Fualaau of Peninsula Green (CA) and Ryan James of the Aztec Warriors (CA).
There are also several college talents, like AIC’s Jihad Khabir, Arizon State’s Bailey Stringer, BYU’s Zach Webber, and Central Washington’s Cameron Marek.
Men's Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp | Nov. 20 - 26
Aaron 'Spike' Davis - Columbus Rugby Club
Paul Eteaki - Euless Texans Rugby Club
Alex Faison-Donahoe - Kutztown University
Naima Fualaau - Peninsula Green Rugby Club
Alec Gletzer - Olympic Club
Junior Helu - Life West
Ryan James - Aztec Warriors Youth Rugby
Jihad Khabir - American International College
Cameron Marek - Central Washington University
Don Pati - Park City Haggis Rugby Football Club
Joey Sok - Columbus Rugby Club
Bailey Stringer - Arizona State University
Connor Wallace-Sims - Old Blue of New York
Zach Webber - Brigham Young University
Men's Eagles Sevens | 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Schedule
Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens - Dec. 2-3
HSBC Cape Town Sevens - Dec. 10-11
HSBC Wellington Sevens - Jan. 28-29
HSBC Sydney 7s - Feb. 6-7
HSBC USA Sevens - March 3-5
HSBC Canada Sevens - March 11-12
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens - April 7-9
HSBC Singapore Sevens - April 15-16
HSBC Paris 7s - May 13-14
HSBC London Sevens - May 20-21