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The pack has been scrumming heavily in the first couple of days, setting the foundation for what scrum coach Derek Dowling hopes will be a source strength for the team going forward.

The players are clearly excited to have Mike Tolkin as head coach and the backs seem to be responding to the always energetic Tony Smeeth – who coached with Tolkin with the USA U19s twenty years ago.

“It’s always different after a World Cup,” said captain and flanker Todd Clever. “This is the first assembly after the World Cup, a lot of new faces, and a new coach. Things are going well, and the guys are pumped and excited for a new era.”

Several players are returning from 2011, although there is an obvious hole to fill at lock.

“I think we have a good balance,” said Clever. “We have some good senior players who are still playing some good rugby at the highest level. And we’ve got some new guys. The guys who’ve been around a long time are still hungry and focused on doing a good job, and with the new blood, that’s always good, too.”

In a week, the Eagles play Canada, but right now players and coaches are talking about the fact they have more than just a few days to get ready.

“Canada are our biggest rivals, but I’m not so sure beating Canada is the most important thing,” said Clever. “Right now getting the good foundation is important. In the long term we’re in a new cycle, looking to improve and we have to get the right guys in the right positions and just start playing some good rugby.”