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The USA backline has the potential to enter the World Cup confident, effective, and worrying to other teams.
But to do that, Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan has to straighten out some questions (specifically, how the deep three gets put together, and whether Chris Wyles moves into the centers). He also has to see a reduction in errors. Inside center Andrew Suniula said the errors at the Churchill Cup have been preying on the players since.
“We know that if you can eliminate errors and defend well you’re a long way to winning a game,” Suniula told RUGBYMag.com. “You’ve got to exert pressure and keep it there. But against Tonga we were building pressure and we let the foot off the throat, either through a dropped ball or a silly error in the ruck, or a bad pass. It was a combination of things.”
Especially for Suniula. The big, bruising center did well to make the gain line, and get through it. He helped set up two tries and scored another. But his passing … well it wasn’t great.
“Passing’s one of the stronger part of my game,” Suiniula said. “I don’t know why it happened. I couldn’t give you and answer even now. But that’s never been a problem for me and then against Russia, two or three woeful passes!”
Suniula said that as the backline figures out how to play together, sometimes you can look up and see two players ready to take the pass, and you can get caught in two minds as to which player to pass to.
“That’s still not an excuse,” he added. “I will just have to work on my passing, that’s all.”
Suniula is among a large group of centers, including his bother Roland, Junior Sifa, and Pate Tuilevuka, who are vying for sports in the midfield. Who will get the nod in the end is something the players can’t dwell on, he said.
“Who plays is up to the coaches,” he explained. “For the players and the team, each game is important, and each game is a stepping stone to New Zealand. Once you get caught up in [who gets picked] you get taken out of your game. I don’t worry too much about that stuff. I just play to win and forget about the rest; I’ve always played that way.”