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USA Men's 7s team Head Coach Matt Hawkins has made his choices for the team to go to Tokyo and Hong Kong. Some adjustments to the squad have been forced on him, and some are his choice alone.
Here's a look at who is there, and who isn't, and why:
Not picked because he has a contract with the Glasgow Warriors.
Not picked - official reason is that he has a contract with the Glasgow Warriors, but RUGBYMag.com was given to understand that he would be able to play 7s during his contract, and Hawkins chose not to exercise that option.
Nu'u Punimata, Stephen Tomasin
With USA 15s team.
Adam Siddall, Tim Maupin
With USA 15s team and new to the program.
Almost everyone else not picked, new to the program.
Who did get picked:
Why: He runs through people, and gives the Eagles a much-needed grouchmonger. He also has decent pace and when he sees that tryline he is very tough to stop.
What we need more of: Consistency, especially on defense, and that he plays
with the knowledge that he's not going to score every time he gets the
Why: Works hard, can win balls in the air, and is tough to bring down.
What we need more of: More what he needs more of - he's got to keep playing. Could be another Brett Thompson with some time under his belt.
Why: Experience. Makes some smart decisions. Is a big body.
What we need more of: Bigger body - he can truck over guys, but doesn't always choose to. Smarter offloads; he can force the issue too much. Wrapping up on tackles.
Why: Experienced, versatile, breaks tackles.
What we need more of: Defense. Edwards can play defense, he just doesn't always do it well. Edwards can pass and set up his support; he just often chooses to take contact despite the fact that when he passes more, the team scores more.
Why: They need a fast, meddlesome scrumhalf and he's it.
What we need more of: Smart choices, which comes with time, and more power in the tackle, which we've seen.
Why: He has a wonderful sidestep, is poised, and can see space. Has the versatility to play almost anywhere in the backs.
What we need more of: Continue to kick well - he's probably the go-to goalkicker for this trip.
Why: Versatility, kicking skills, support play.
What we need more of: Little moments of excellent play have to be bigger and more frequent. Helps if you play more.
Why: Super-experienced, confident player with the ability to play as a forward or a wing or center. Power-runner with pace.
What we need more of: Exactly what he's given us when he has played. It's difficult to fit in when you're not in residency, but Palefau will be expected to do just that, and if he's limited to a minute or two a game, smile and say "thanks."
Why: Speed. Carlin Isles is in Glasgow.
What we need more of: The story has been that Isles would still be available for the 7s team, and if that's the case, Satavu has been chosen in place of the international star. Satavu has some things going for him - he's a WCAP player, which means the military is supporting his training, and it doesn't hurt to have one of those guys on the team to show that the program is working. Related to that, he's in residency, which Isles is not, and thus could potentially move into a more connected role on the team. He's also quick, if not as quick as Isles. Right now, we want him to get the chance to run and show what he can do, and not run himself out of position.
Why: Because he's Mike Te'o.
What we need more of: OK, so we're being facetious. What "being Mike Te'o" means is that he's a ballplayer. He doesn't really fit into any accepted role on a rugby team. He's shaped like a hooker, can play fullback in 15s, doesn't look fast but seems to outrun a lot of guys.
In fact, one thing he doesn't get a lot of credit for is his fitness, but it seems that he can play a full game, and at the end be the guy who runs the length of the field to make a key tackle.
What do we need to see more of? Mike Te'o on the 7s field. Whether he's playing halfback, center, or hooker or something else, he should be there, and Hawkins should find a role for him.
Why: He's the best player on the team.
What we need more of: The 2012-2013 Zack Test who started to work in synchrony with his teammates.
Why: He's the second-best player on the team.
What we need more of: All those little things. Thompson has done well as a hard-charging forward who can finish off tries on the wing. Now let's get the details down - perfect passing, perfect defensive alignment, perfect execution at the lineout. He has all these tools; he just needs to execute every time.
USA Team as a Whole
Why: Well, really, what - what are they facing? They are in a pool with Fiji, Samoa, and France. While the USA has beaten these teams in the recent past, they are not favored to do so this time. So ... the real "what" is, do better than Spain, which is in a pool with England, Australia, and Scotland, and do better that Portugal, which lines up against New Zealand, Canada, and Wales.
To do that, realistically, they need to win the first game on Day Two. The USA team deserves some kudos for winning something - they have won the Shield three times in the first five tournaments (and actually have won the Shield more than any other World Series team in history). That, at least, indicates that they don't give up and keep playing to the end.
Great, but winning the Bowl is better. And to win the Bowl, you need to win your first game on Sunday.
If the Eagles win the Bowl, and Portugal finishes 15th, and Spain finishes below, the USA would move up to 13th in the standings, and ensuring they are not 15th is the order of business for the rest of the season.