There's no rest for the weary as the USA Men's 7s team gets ready to compete in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens April 5-7 for Round 7 of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
After winning the USA 7s in Las Vegas, the USA looked a little battered and worn down when they finished 4th in the Canada 7s in Vancouver, BC. The injuries to Danny Barrett (thumb) and Perry Baker (jaw) started to tell, and those two will miss Hong Kong and Singapore, as well.
But some players have stepped into the fore with the absence of those two. Carlin Isles now leads the World Series with 32 tries. Ben Pinkelman has emerged as one of the best forwards in the competition.
Head coach Mike Friday is hoping to see even more from Matai Leuta and Brett Thompson. Friday has also brought back Joe Schroeder, a tall, lanky forward with a nice burst of speed. All of those players will have to bring the power.
To spell Stephen Tomasin, who has been superb this year, Friday has brought back the tireless Pat Blair as an extra hooker who can slot in as a halfback or prop when needed. To spell Isles, Kevon Williams and Marcus Tupuola have the ability to finish tries.
But this is a lineup that might be developing depth, but also must reveal that the USA has depth. With the USA 1st in the Sevens World Series, a World Championship, and an automatic spot in the 2020 Olympics at stake, the Eagles can't afford to just coast through.
“We are where we want to be at this point in the season, which is in control of our own destiny in trying to achieve automatic Olympic qualification and breaking new ground finishing in the Top 4," said Friday. "We set high standards for ourselves on and off the pitch and are always working hard for one another. It’s a key trait in our DNA we need to maintain and excel at. We must stay hungry and show humility every time we take the pitch and enjoy each and every opportunity we are given to represent the USA.”
The USA pool in Hong Kong is a good one, and just reward for the Eagles playing well. Spain, Wales, and England are all beatable, but are also all teams that could unseat the Eagles.
“We are in a very tricky pool once again with a dangerous Wales team who have strike runners throughout their squad, should they be able to control possession for sustained periods," said Friday. “Spain are probably the most improved team on the circuit and are both resilient in their play and relentless as they showed in Vancouver against New Zealand. They are a very dangerous team not to be taken likely.
“England are hugely competitive and all our games this season have grown hugely competitive and always come down to the smallest of margins. They have so much experience guile—as well as pace—which makes them immensely tough to play against and a team we have huge respect for with their ‘never say die’ attitude.”
Men's Eagles Sevens Traveling Squad
Madison Hughes (C)
Men's Eagles Sevens Staff
Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | Phil Greening
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Jon Hood
Athletic Trainer | Brian Green
Team Manager | Scott Novack