PREVIEW: USA v Maori All Blacks
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ash Dixon has been named as captain of the Maori All Blacks alongside 10 debutants for their match against the USA in Chicago on Saturday.
Head coach Clayton McMillan has a true mix of experience and fresh faces in the 23, with the locking combination of Isaia Walker-Leawere and Pari Pari Parkinson, wingers Jonah Lowe and Regan Ware and loose forward Mitch Karpik all earning run-on debuts.
“Izzy [Walker-Leawere] and Pari Pari [Parkinson] come off the back of some great Mitre 10 Cup campaigns. They’re extremely big rigs, 270 odd kilos between then; a lot of raw meat, real power, and if they put that to good use I’m sure the team will benefit from it,” he said.
Experience comes in the form of established midfielders Teihorangi Walden and Rob Thompson and a formidable front row of Dixon, Chris Eves and Ben May. Robbie Abel, Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon, Josh Ioane and Matty Lansdown are all in line for debuts from the bench.
The squad includes Sam Nock and Isaac Salmon who were added to the squad last week, and Sevens sensation Regan Ware, has been named to start on the wing, after he was called into the squad as an injury replacement.
“Regan’s opportunity comes unfortunately through an injury to Caleb Makene who was injured in the Final. Regan trained with us at our camp in Tauranga and made a really good impression and fortunately, the All Blacks Sevens accommodated our request to have him released. He was another player who really showed his ability with Taranaki.”
Meanwhile, 13 players will return from the USA’s upset over then No.6 Scotland during the June internationals for the match against the Maori All Blacks.
Ten of them will take the field as starters with three ready to energize the team as reserves.
The full group will be graced by two new faces in Chance Wenglewski and Gannon Moore who will play with the team for the first time. Though the Maori match will not count for caps, Moore and Wenglewski have the opportunity to ingrain themselves within the Eagles setup ahead of Rugby World Cup Japan 2019.
Alongside Wenglewski and Moore are five players who will feature for the first time since the USA’s title-winning run at the Americas Rugby Championship 2018. Among them are Ryan Matyas, Psalm Wooching, Tony Lamborn, Dino Waldren and Anthony Purpura. Matyas, Wooching and Audsley recently competed in the Americas Pacific Challenge 2018 with the Men’s Selects.
Eagle Luke Hume jumps back into the fold with a starting position himself, having last played with the Eagles in June of 2016.
Captained by Nate Augspurger, the Eagles have a strong group selected for a rematch of 2016 encounter where the squad also faced the Maori All Blacks. Augspurger and three others selected for Saturday represented USA during that contest, including Nick Civetta, Tony Lamborn and reserve James Hilterbrand.
“We’re facing a huge challenge this weekend with a very polished Maori All Blacks side. The group of guys selected have all proven they can meet that challenge over the last week and a half of training,” said head coach Gary Gold. “We know that when Saturday comes, we’ll need to show an unmatched patience and consistency within our game plan to deliver the results we know we are capable of.”
United States: 15 Luke Hume, 14 Nate Augspurger (captain), 13 Gannon Moore, 12 Dylan Audsley, 11 Ryan Matyas, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Shaun Davies, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 John Quill, 5 Nick Civetta, 4 Ben Landry, 3 Paul Mullen, 2 Dylan Fawsitt, 1 Chance Wenglewski.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Anthony Purpura, 18 Dino Waldren, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Hanco Germishuys, 21 Psalm Wooching, 22 Ruben de Haas, 23 Will Magie.
Maori All Blacks: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Regan Ware, 10 Otere Black, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Mitch Karpik, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Hoani Matenga, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matty Lansdown.
Date: Saturday, November 3
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Kick-off: 18.00 (23.00 GMT; 12.00 NZ time Sunday, November 4)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Chris Assmus (Canada)