Eagles selected for Rugby World Cup preview match against Scotland

HOUSTON, Texas – The starting roster for the Men’s Eagles’ IRB Rugby World Cup preview match against Scotland at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday, June 7, has been announced.

Shalom Suniula will get his first start in an Eagles jersey at flyhalf behind Mike Petri in Houston. Suniula earned his first two caps earlier this year in the World Cup Qualifier series against Uruguay and scored a try in the second-leg victory.

“We’re looking for Shalom to do what we want out of our 10s: run the show, be an organizer, be a leader,” Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “He has athleticism, a nice step, he can shoot holes and take advantage of that. And he has a little bit of flair to his game, which we like. He’s a real skillful player.”

After returning to the Eagles for the first leg of the Qualifier in Montevideo, Hayden Smith missed out on the second leg in favor of Louis Stanfill. Smith re-signed with Saracens in the Aviva Premiership this year following a stint in the National Football League and has earned a starting spot at lock alongside Stanfill.

“Hayden’s looking tighter, he’s gotten rid of the extra bulk,” Tolkin said. “He’s made progress from March and has a road to go, but he’s put himself in a position to play.”

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Smith’s Saracens teammate Chris Wyles will start at fullback between fellow Premiership star Blaine Scully and Luke Hume on the wings. Todd Clever will partner Scott LaValla at the flanker position and captain the Eagles in his 57th cap, while Cam Dolan will start at number eight for a sixth consecutive match.

Seamus Kelly, who finished his collegiate rugby career at the University of California, Berkeley this year, will wear the no. 13 jersey alongside Andrew Suniula in the centers.

Despite missing Samu Manoa, the Eagles possess depth on the bench with Tom Coolican, Titi Lamositele, Tim Maupin, Folau Niua, Tai Tuisamoa, and Nick Wallace all capped.

“I look back on the last couple years, especially two years ago during my first summer tour,” Tolkin said. “We were very thin. If we had injuries we were in a lot of trouble. The drop-off was way down and we didn’t sub very much. Now we know whoever goes in is going to perform, so we have no qualms about our bench.”

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Scotland also toured the States in 2002 ahead of the 2003 World Cup in Australia, where the Eagles last faced the Scots. The schedule is reflected this year, as the two nations will play each other this weekend and meet again at the World Cup in England in 2015.

BBVA Compass Stadium will host a Tier 1 nation for the third time in as many years Saturday. Italy and Ireland each set new attendance records in 2012 and 2013, respectively, with U.S. tour stops in Houston.

The World Cup preview match kicks off from BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:00 P.M. CT Saturday and will be broadcast live on Universal Sports. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for live match updates and join the social media conversation with the #USAvSCO hashtag.

Men's Eagles | v Scotland
1. Olive Kilifi
2. Phil Thiel
3. Eric Fry
4. Louis Stanfill
5. Hayden Smith
6. Todd Clever
7. Scott LaValla
8. Cameron Dolan
9. Mike Petri
10. Shalom Suniula
11. Luke Hume
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Seamus Kelly
14. Blaine Scully
15. Chris Wyles

Men's Eagles | Reserves
16. Tom Coolican
17. Nick Wallace
18. Titi Lamositele
19. Tai Tuisamoa
20. Danny Barrett
21. Folau Niua
22. Chad London
23. Tim Maupin

Scotland | v USA Eagles
1. Gordon Reid
2. Scott Lawson
3. Geoff Cross
4. Richie Gray
5. Jim Hamilton
6. Alasdair Strokosch
7. Blair Cowan
8. Johnnie Beattie
9. Greig Laidlaw
10. Finn Russell
11. Tim Visser
12. Duncan Taylor
13. Sean Lamont
14. Sean Maitland
15. Stuart Hogg

Scotland | Reserves
16. Pat MacArthur
17. Alex Allan
18. Moray Low
19. Grant Gilchrist
20. Kieran Low
21. Grayson Hart
22. Ruaridh Jackson
23. Max Evans