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But what about Samuela Manoa, who also joins the Eagles in Houston after playing with Northampton in the Aviva Premiership final and with the Barbarians against the British & Irish Lions? He hasn't played with the Eagles much, ever, and hasn't been a part of the Eagles setup for two years, since the Eddie O'Sullivan era. Can he come right in and assimilate with the team?
"I think the level he’s been playing at, the competition certainly won’t be [an issue]," said USA head coach Mike Tolkin. "He’ll be used to playing against this style, against this type of speed. We’ll see how he catches up to our game. I think given the athlete that he is, the level he’s playing right now, he’ll be well prepared."
Adam Siddall jumped into the Eagle starting lineup for the Canada game with
even less USA experience than Manoa.
"If you’re talking about a guy who just joined our squad, hasn’t been in our system at all, ever, comes into our program, trains for 10 days and then plays against Canada in an international, how much worse is that than asking Samu to come in?," said Tolkin. "We feel pretty comfortable in terms of his athleticism and the level he’s been playing at."
If Manoa slots into the starting lineup against Ireland, as seems likely given Tolkin's comments, look for him to join the back row. If he goes to No. 8, he frees up Todd Clever to play his more natural position of openside, and, along with LaValla at six, forms what could someday be considered the best American back row of all time. Manoa also provides flexibility, as he could start in the second row or at flanker, just like LaValla and Louis Stanfill.