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Paterson was the captain of the USA U19 team back in 2004, and later moved to New Zealand (where his family is from), and worked his way up the ranks in Canterbury. He made the Canterbury NPC team as a wing, and later moved to the Otago Highlanders where, despite a couple of injuries, he has performed well in the Super 15.
His experience as a back in the Super 15 is unique among USA-eligible players.
Paterson has long been mentioned in hushed tones as a potential Eagle. But the 24-year-old had also been thought to have the All Blacks in his sights.
But now the 24-year-old wing/fullback/center has officially thrown his lot in with the USA (remember, if he plays just one game for USA, USA A, or USA 7s team, he cannot change countries). According to his father, John, who coaches the Colorado Springs U19 team and runs a business there, Paterson the younger is purchasing a house in Colorado where he plans to stay during the offseason, and also work with his father’s company with an eye toward a future after rugby.
Paterson told RUGBYMag.com that playing in the Super 15 can make it tough to be available for non-SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia) teams, “but with a few things changing around the NZ S15 contracting it has allowed me a window to consider my options.”
He added, “I have made myself available for the States. I have always had the States in my mind as I enjoyed playing my youth rugby for the US. With the World Cup coming up it’s really attractive to me as an option.”
Paterson is recovering from a pectoral muscle injury and is rehabbing that now. He will be healthy in time for the World Cup, and possibly before, but it will be a close-run thing.
Even just working on his fitness and being in camp will help both Paterson and the Eagles, said his father.
“He has played under Robbie Deans, who now coaches Australia,” said John Paterson. “He knows Robbie’s approach. He knows the players. He would be a great resource for the team.”
“The Highlanders has been a great experience,” added James. “Unfortunately injury derailed my season as it started to take off, but I have loved the last two years there and to play week-in, week-out with and against Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks is an experience and is irreplaceable in helping me develop as a player.”