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Carlin Isles is still not fit to play, and Ben Pinkelman has returned to his studies at Colorado State, leaving room for Nate Ebner to stay on the team and Pat Blair to join it for Singapore. Ebner was pulled into the Hong Kong squad as cover for Isles, who was a late scratch with an ankle injury the coaching staff thought would have been cleared up in time. He's still not all the way healthy, so he's returned to the USA.
Originally, Pinkelman was only going to be available for two tournaments this season, but head coach Mike Friday liked what he saw in Wellington and Sydney, and the CSU senior was able to make himself free for more, resulting in five consecutive selections. He has acquitted himself well and earned strong consideration going into the final months before the Olympic team is selected, but he won't be in Singapore.
Though Ebner was available in Hong Kong, he was coming off a two-day 10s tournament, and the coaching staff elected to let him rest unless needed. He wasn't and didn't see any action. He probably will in Singapore, along with Blair. This marks the Central Washington's second call-up in three tournaments, both occasions being forced by injury. With heat and humidity unrivaled by any tournament thus far expected in Singapore, the full 12-man roster will likely be needed.
The USA has a tough pool, too, with New Zealand, France and Canada in the same group. The Eagles are 3-2 against New Zealand this season, with all three wins coming in the opening leg in Dubai and South Africa. The All Blacks have since won back-to-back matches in Australia and Canada. The USA is 2-1 against France, having dropped a game in the season opener in Dubai but won the last two meetings in New Zealand and Canada. The USA's only meeting with rival Canada this season was a 26-26 draw in pool play in Las Vegas.
Pool C crosses over against Pool B in the knockouts, which is headlined by South Africa. The Blitzbokke have been kryptonite for the USA recently. The Eagles beat South Africa in Dubai, but the last three meetings have been bloobaths in favor of the Bokke. The combined score in those three matches is 78-10 to South Africa. So topping the pool is where Friday and his charges need to set their sights. Kenya is likely to beat out Scotland and Russia for second in Pool B.
The schedule plays out well for the Eagles, as they get to build up to the all-important clash in New Zealand. Up first is Canada at 11:06 a.m. local time Saturday (11:06 p.m. ET Friday), then France at 2:27 p.m. (2:27 a.m. ET Saturday) and New Zealand at 5:48 a.m. (5:48 a.m. ET Saturday). The tournament will be streamed live via World Rugby.