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It’s a mistake to think that simply avoiding contact and populating your team with speedy guys and sidesteppers will win 7s games today.
Not that you
should seek out contact – that’s a mistake, too, and a common one among
those new to the game – but to win at the elite level you need guys who can
run really fast, guys who can beat tacklers one-on-one, players who can win
the ball in the air, players who can win scrums and rucks, and players who
can break through tackles.
And while the Eagles do need to improve in all areas, where they really need help in the power game.
USA 7s team Head Coach Alex Magleby saw in the NACRA 7s in Canada that the Canadians were a little too strong at the breakdown, in addition to being very strong runners in traffic. So he has to look to make some changes.
Shalom Suiniula, Tai Enosa, Peter Tiberio, and Luke Hume are sidesteppers with very good acceleration, but are small of stature. Maka Unufe, Carlin Isles and Rocco Mauer are fast, but not (yet) physically imposing. Zack Test and Colin Hawley are excellent up high, and strong, but they need help in the trenches.
What we’re looking for are players who can bust through tacklers, win rucks
on their own, and make earth-shaking tackles. Mike Palefau certainly fits
that description, but there are still places open for more of those types
Taylor Mokate is just getting in the swing of playing international 7s. He is likely to be tapped to play in the ARC, and if he is, won’t be available for 7s (USA 15s Coach Mike Tolkin and Magleby are, shocker of shockers, actually communicating regularly about players). Jack Halalilo is something of a tweener player: speedy, but not quite fast enough to be a back; big and strong, but not one who controls the points of contact.
Both of these guys showed in Ottawa at the NACRA 7s that they need
Andrew Durutalo, if he is healthy, is potentially an addition to the forwards. Eric Duechle, who has impressed this summer in 7s but has long been considered a 15s prospect, might be the guy, too … if Tolkin doesn’t pick him.
That’s two names, and perhaps a couple more could, but there seems to be a shortage, right now, of big guys with speed and skill. Someone like Blaine Scully, who is still shelved due to an Achilles tendon injury that is supposed to be better by the New Year.
So the upshot of this article is to tell you to expect changes. With the 7s
team playing at the Gold Coast 7s at the same time of the ARC, the 15s and
7s program will be looking at some of the same players. But right now,
Magleby may well try out some new ideas, and new players. Expect to see
some recent college products, and maybe an overseas-trained US
And the reason you will see new faces, is because the USA 7s team needs a power infusion.