Eagles to finish U.S. leg of Americas Rugby Championship against Chile in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Men's Eagles Head Coach John Mitchell will continue the trend of awarding caps in the team's final home match of the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship Saturday, Feb. 20, when Chile visits Lockhart Stadium.

Todd Clever will captain the side for the second consecutive match before he and prop Eric Fry return to Newcastle Falcons in England, when the U.S. squad travels to South America to finish the first-year competition against Brazil and Uruguay. The Eagles earned bonus points in their first two matches, a draw with fellow table-topper Argentina XV and a fourth consecutive defeat of Canada in Texas, and sit level atop the tournament standings.

"We're [in a place to win] this competition but it's not necessarily something we're focused on," Mitchell said. "We respect the opposition and they bring different challenges each week. Obviously we look at them thoroughly, but we focus more on ourselves than the opposition in the competition."

Though the ARC-opening match against a select Argentina squad was not a test and no caps were awarded, 14 new Eagles received their first caps last weekend against Canada, including Mike Te'o at scrum half. The 22-year-old took over the No. 9 jersey from Rugby World Cup 2015 scrum half Niku Kruger, but will face Chile as full back, a position at which he spent time playing with Taranaki Rugby in New Zealand last fall.

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Kruger will be available on the bench as cover for young London Wasps Academy and USA Rugby All-American product Tom Bliss in his first appearance with the national team. JP Eloff rounds out the half-back pairing in his first start with the Eagles after playing 40 minutes last weekend.

Nic Edwards will receive his first cap on the wing before he and substitute Pat Blair return to the Men's Eagles Sevens program next week, while Lorenzo Thomas will line up alongside Chad London in the centers in his first action at the senior level. Thomas scored the AIG Men's Junior All-Americans' only try in a thrilling defeat of Canada's under-20s last weekend in the World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifier at Dell Diamond, and was called into the squad due to his level of play and the departure of the injured Lemoto Filikitonga.

Injuries and previous commitments have paved the way for players such as Nate Brakeley and Thomas to be called into the squad by the coaching staff during the ARC assembly, increasing the national team's depth. Brakeley will again start alongside Clever and David Tameilau in the back row, while Ben Landry and Brodie Orth swap their respective lock positions for Saturday's match.

"It's important to grow the depth," Mitchell said. "We're establishing greater competition down the tracks, and there was already competition in this side. There'll be even greater competition come June and November.

"It's quite unusual coming into an environment and people turning up and leaving as a result of the planning. It's been a bit challenging, but it's also been quite refreshing. There's new energy each week in bringing people up to speed."

Three additional debuts could come from the reserves in Demecus Beach, Pat Blair, and Ryan Matyas, who had originally been scheduled to join the team in South America.

Including Saturday's match at Lockhart Stadium, the U.S. finishes the first-year ARC competition against sides ranked lower than its current 16th-place ranking. The Eagles are benefitting from a mixture of veterans and internationally-inexperienced talent both in the standings and in terms of allowing Mitchell and the coaching staff to get a better look at the greater player pool for future tours.

Chile kept Argentina to 19 points through 40 minutes before losing, 52-15, but defeated Brazil in their opening match of the tournament.

"Where we finish will be a byproduct of what we bring in our performance, and it will be a byproduct of our preparation," the head coach said. "We're mindful of that. Chile's quite a different team to Canada and Argentina. They love to play with a lot of freedom and play from 100 meters out, and they could turn up in any area of space on attack."

Saturday's match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET kickoff, to be broadcast live on ESPN 3 (WatchESPN.com). Tickets are still available at Lockhart Stadium, while live match updates and in-game highlights will be provided on USA Rugby's Twitter account.

Men's Eagles | v. Chile

1. Eric Fry

2. Joseph Taufete'e

3. Chris Baumann

4. Ben Landry

5. Brodie Orth

6. Nate Brakeley

7. Todd Clever (C)

8. David Tameilau

9. Tom Bliss

10. JP Eloff

11. Nic Edwards

12. Chad London

13. Lorenzo Thomas

14. Luke Hume

15. Mike Te'o

Men's Eagles | Reserves

16. Mike Sosene-Feagai

17. Olive Kilifi

18. Demecus Beach

19. Alec Gletzer

20. Patrick Blair

21. Niku Kruger

22. Ryan Matyas

23. Jake Anderson

Chile | v. USA

1. Claudio Zamorano

2. Tomás Dussaillaint

3. Luis Sepulveda

4. Felipe Bassaletti

5. Raimundo Piwonka

6. Ignacio Silva

7. Javier Richard

8. Benjamin Soto (C)

9. Beltran Vergara

10. Cristian Onetto

11. Humberto Chacaltana

12. Francisco De la Fuente

13. Matías Nordenflycht

14. Matías Contreras

15. Pablo Casas

Chile | Reserves

16. Rodrigo Moya

17. Ińaki Gurruchaga

18. Jose Tomas Munita

19. Cristobal Niedmann

20. Nikola Bursic

21. Matthieu Manas

22. Jose Ignacio Larenas

23. Leonardo Montoya

Men's Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship Coaching Staff

John Mitchell

Phil Greening - Assistant Coach

Marty Veale - Assistant Coach

Rob Hoadley - Assistant Coach

David Williams - Strength and Conditioning Coach

Paul Goulding - Video Analyst

Sean Lindersmith - Team Manager

Men's Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship 2016

v. Argentina - D 35-35

v. Canada - W 30-22

v. Chile - Saturday, Feb. 20 @ 6:10 p.m. ET - Lockhart Stadium (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

v. Brazil - Saturday, Feb. 27 @ 3:10 p.m. ET - Arena Barueri (São Paolo, Brazil)

v. Uruguay - Saturday, March 5 @ 4:10 p.m. ET - Charrua Stadium (Montevideo, Uruguay)