You are here
Selections for the Eagles have always been a moving target, with so much dependence on amateurs and the lottery that is hoping your overseas pros are made available. However, summer has been the time for the USA to be as close to full strength as possible, with those months falling outside the European professional window.
That’s not been the case this year, though, as no player has started all three tests thus far in the same position. Georgia, which also played three matches in three weeks, had 11 common starters across all tests. England, which played back-to-back games on the road against Argentina, had 13. The result for the USA has been a skid of 0-1-2, with a three-year winning streak coming to a halt.
Saturday’s test will be the last under John Mitchell, who is departing for a Super Rugby gig. In his tenure, selections have been especially inconsistent. In total, he capped an astonishing 48 players in less than two years. That’s an average of three debutants a game. Of those players Mitchell bestowed the forever title of Eagle on, 28 of them earned three caps or less, indicating he didn’t place much value in the USA shirt.
To make room for all those newcomers, Mitchell turned his selections into a revolving door, casting aside many known commodities, leaving the USA unnecessarily. This summer, injuries piled up, too, exacerbating the issue of depth.
Blaine Scully, Samu Manoa, Thretton Palamo, Titi Lamositele, Luke Hume and Brett Thompson were all ruled out due to injury. Zack Test, who looked poised to make an elongated run in 15s, was lost for some time, if not for good, due to a gruesome head injury during the spring. Danny Barrett was coming off an injury which saw him sidelined for the end of the World Series, and 7s teammate Folau Niua was sat for much needed and earned rest. Olive Kilifi was unavailable due to the birth of a new child. Taku Ngwenya, who has been known to be from time to time, was not communicative.
However, Glasgow Warriors lock Greg Peterson could have been called into camp and wasn’t. He headlines a laundry list of capped players Mitchell didn’t consider or select. Sharing the marquee with Peterson is Eric Fry, who has been the biggest victim of Mitchell’s whims. The 29-year-old playing professionally in France has 41 caps to his name, but was selected for just five of Mitchell’s 16 tests.
Below is an incomprehensive list of capped Eagles who are believed to be actively playing, or at least were during Mitchell’s tenure, who weren’t selected for the summer series. Some fit into the category of guys who were capped by Mitchell, then discarded. Though some could have come in handy in particularly thin position groups.