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This weekend, NTT faces Clever’s old team, league-leading Suntory.



This would be a good time for Clever to take control of the game, something he did quite a bit in the recent USA tour of Europe. For Clever, the success of the Eagles on that tour was a big step.

“I guess you could lament the Tonga game, but it was still a nice thing to go 2-1 and shut down Romania in that fashion,” Clever told RUGBYMag.com. “The team made some big strides this last tour. As for the Tonga game there was some serious growing pains with that loss. I felt we had them and we just couldn't convert. We need to learn from that loss and not let those close games slip away from us.”

As a result, the 34-3 drubbing of Romania in Bucharest was that much more gratifying, coming as it did after a loss.

Clever said he was impressed with some of the newer players that made their debuts for the Eagles.

“International rugby is a big step up from rugby in America and I thought all the new faces in the squad made the adjustment very well,” said the USA captain. “They got the taste of it, and they will have already received the feedback from the coaches. Now it’s up to them to take their game and channel it in the right direction so they keep getting the callup.”

As for Clever himself? He is in terrific form, having made an impact for the USA in virtually every area – running with the ball, lineouts, tackling, ball retention, and leadership.

“I went out there each of those test matches and put what all I have on the field for the team,” he said. “I am pleased with my effort and contribution to the team’s successful tour.”

That’s about all you’ll get out of Clever when you ask him to talk about his game. He’s a flashy player, but doesn’t usually talk flashy after the fact. This weekend, certainly Suntory will be on the lookout for him, as he hopes to make an impact against his old club.