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The Eagles are thin at flyhalf, and that's no
secret. Toby L'Estrange and Adam Siddall, the two most recent answers for
the No. 10 jersey, are out with injury.
Siddall is working through some concussion issues and is expected to be back later this summer.
"The plan is to bring him back into the squad fully," said USA coach Mike Tolkin of Siddall, "and hopefully he'll be ready to play in the autumn."
L'Estrange, however, broke his tibia and fibula and has at least six months of recovery ahead of him.
So, with three winnable games in the June test window coming up very soon, who is going to fill in at flyhalf?
One might speculate Tolkin would reach out of the immediate player pool to fill the void left by L'Estrange's and Siddall's injuries. But that doesn't appear to be the case.
Former West Point All American Will Holder, whose only start at flyhalf for the Eagles was against Canada in 2012, is now playing 7s full-time at the Olympic Training Center as part of the World Class Athlete Program. He's available and has experience, but hasn't been playing much 15s.
"Will's on the radar. We just want a little more time to get him back into rugby," said Tolkin. "He's played one 15s game with OMBAC, he got onto the 7s squad, so we just want a little time with him back into the game and back into 15s. He's definitely on the radar. This summer is probably too soon for him to get back into serious play with us."
Roland Suniula last started at flyhalf against Italy in 2012, and he hasn't pulled on a 15s Eagles jersey since the 2012 November tests. When he did play No. 10 for the USA, he wasn't relied on as a kicker. He seems like a longshot for a call-up.
Nese Malifa is back training full-time in a high performance environment with the 7s team at the OTC, but he hasn't played for the 15s team since 2011 and hasn't
really gotten on Tolkin's radar, despite a stellar performance against the Eagles' training squad last year in a Glendale jersey, largely because of chronic injury issues. He's currently rehabbing an injury at the OTC.
Shalom Suniula played some flyhalf in the World Cup Qualifiers against Uruguay, and he's very much in the mix. As is Folau Niua, who played some flyhalf for the USA last fall, though he's spent most of his time with the National Team as a center.
Niua is in a full-time training environment with the Glasgow Warriors, though he's not seeing a lot of playing time. And Suniula is immersed in the Serevi-Seattle-OPSB network with some of his Eagle teammates.
"Shalom obviously played with us in the qualifiers at 10, so he'll be one of our guys," said Tolkin. "Folau has played 10 for us and he'll assume some duties there, so right now we're OK 10-wise, considering two of our guys are out."
So, don't look for an answer to come from outside the current player pool.