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It’s been a somewhat tumultuous couple of weeks for the USA men’s 7s team, especially for the team captain, as first Shalom Suniula’s brother Roland left the camp and asked to be released from his contract, and then Head Coach Al Caravelli had to leave, as well.

Suniula, for his part, has a group of nine other players in residency to rally and get to training even though the squad had no coach (Alex Magleby was quickly hired and joined the team this past Monday).

“All that stuff, it’s helped me to be a better captain,” Suniula told RUGBYMag.com. “I think it’s helped build character within the team, and that was something I felt I needed to help make happen.”

With Dave Williams  and Ric Suggitt available to help the squad bridge the gap until Magleby was there, the players still felt somewhat on their own, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I think we found ourselves,” Suniula explained. “I sat down individually with every player, and then we sat down collectively and realized that we still needed to keep making progress on and off the field. It was just about regrouping. Al had established a lot of the principles and values that we keep, and we relied on those, and we’re taking ownership of what we need to do.”

Suniula said he felt a need to take the leadership of the team on his shoulders, and he thought that was a good thing. But at the same time, all the players needed to show some leadership.

“Everyone stepped up as a leader in his own way,” Suniula explained. “The quiet guys spoke up, which is great to see. The guys were punctual, had the correct gear on. Everyone’s been making sure he does the right thing.”