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Gone is Head Coach Paul Keeler, although he is expected help out once in a while, Keeler is coaching college now. In his stead, former Eagle Grant Wells coaches the team with Karl Thomson also helping out. (Thompson actually is the lead guy this weekend against OPSB because Wells is visiting family.)

That’s an adjustment the team has to make, but it’s not a huge one, as the new staff is keeping the old pattern of play.

“What we’re looking to do is refine the culture,” said Thomson, who is one of the club’s all-time great players. “We want the players to approach the game with a professional outlook and to work hard.”

They have been doing that, training in November and getting a couple of games in against Belmont Shore and the East Palo Alto Razorbacks.

“Overall we looked OK,” said longtime scrumhalf Mose Timoteo. “We’re bringing in some new guys, and it will take some time, but I thought we had good unity in the game.”

Timoteo is a rock at #9. He will not have his usual halfback partner, though, as Volney Rouse’s injury has hit the team hard. Samisoni Pone will take over at flyhalf, and so far so good there.

Among the other changes, two high-profile players are back. Danny LaPrevotte returns after a year off. The flanker/lock is one of the most respected players on the club, solid and physical. Also back is Chris Biller at hooker. The National Team #2 should bring plenty of experience to the pack.

SFGG has addressed a hole at No. 8 with the addition of Tevita Kolomatangi, who played for the Tasman Mokos in the ITM Cup (formerly the NPC) in New Zealand. Kolomatangi is an imposing player on attack.

Saimone Laulaupeaalu is reportedly poised for a big year, while Hector Quiles, Opeti Okusi, Tom Rooke,  and a soon-to-be healthy Bruce Thomas all could be part of a deep back row. Okusi was probably the team’s best player against Belmont Shore.

In the backs, Mile Pulu is still getting back to fitness, so it’s up to Pone and Tevita Okusi to get the attack going. The guy to look out for is Heini McFarland, a former Samoa U20 player who should slot in at fullback.

This league opener against Old Puget Sound will be a big test, and Thomson said the coaches expect the team to start well.

“We have been working hard to be fit and ready for this game,” he said. “It’s tough to start so early, but we have a lot of games to play. We have the entire squad working together in training because we know we’re going to need everyone.”