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Glendale was stung with a rash of injuries at the end of the
15s season, and that has significantly hurt their 7s prospects.
Nic Johnson suffered a concussion, and Glendale is taking every caution to prevent exacerbating his situation. Mike Kenyon broke his leg. Spencer Scott tore his hamstring. Ata Malifa tore his pectoral muscle. Nese Malifa is battling a knee problem. Max Statler is out with a broken collarbone.
In addition to the injured players, the Raptors have lost James Paterson to the 15s Eagles, Iniki Famausili to the Junior World Trophy and Tyler Siegel and Ryan Chapman to relocation. Chapman has caught on with Youngbloodz in Minnesota and Siegel is back in native Sacramento.
“I was really excited in the beginning of the season when I looked at the players available, but it’s like gambling -- you’ve got to play the hand that you’ve been dealt,” said Glendale 7s coach Andre Snyman.
“And the players I’ve got left, they’ve stepped up to the plate and filled those positions. I’m confident in them, and I hope they can get the job done.”
Glendale’s experience will come from Dewon Reed and Bradley Winbush, who have played plenty of high-level 7s. Stan Moaali and Justin Pauga are also experienced players who were anchors on the 15s team.
The big pickup for Glendale is Bryce Spaur of Northern Colorado, who would have gotten his shot anyway. Spaur played with the Denver Barbarians the last couple of summers and played for Snyman on the West 7s team last year. He is with Glendale and will provide some stability in the lineup.
There are four kids from Colorado, too, who help make up the batch of baby Raptors who will get their opportunity to shine in light of the aforementioned injuries.
“I won’t say they’re as experienced as the players I’ve lost, but they bring a fresh edge to the team. They’re excited, they’re young, they’re full of energy, and I hope that will pay off,” said Snyman.
“I’m confident their eagerness to learn the game and to play the game will pay off. And then, obviously, the stability of players like Dewon Reed, Stan, Justin Pauga and Bradley Winbush, the experience will come through.”
The Raptors are in Houston Saturday for the West’s first qualifier.