Camp resumes at OTC with Ebner, McGowan, Pinkelman in tow

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Men's Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday is preparing for the next two rounds of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a 21-man High Performance Camp at the Olympic Training Center March 24-28.

Former AIG Men's Junior All-American and newly-re-signed New England Patriot Nate Ebner made his way out to the United States Olympic Committee's high performance base in southern California in the middle of the month, and has been hard at work to reach the fitness levels of the Olympic sport of rugby sevens.

Ebner brings a plethora of high-level experience to the training group, from his time with the MJAAs at the World Rugby U20 Championship to four seasons in the National Football League and a Super Bowl championship.

The U.S. side that reached the Plate Final of HSBC Canada Sevens, the sixth round of the circuit, was missing a few experienced players - including most-capped Eagle Zack Test - to injury. Additionally, internationally-renowned "Fastest Man in Rugby" Carlin Isles was chasing his dream of becoming a dual-sport Olympian at the 2016 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships during the weekend.

The team in Vancouver had an average experience of 12 circuit tournaments per player, and still took Series-leading Fiji to a period of extra time in the Cup Quarterfinals to help secure a fifth-place standing heading into the back-to-back Asian legs.

The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program's Ben Leatigaga made his Series debut earlier this month, as did Seth Halliman out of Central Washington University. While the latter has returned to school, Leatigaga and fellow WCAP athlete Will Holder - who missed the Canadian leg having sustained a head injury in Las Vegas the week prior - are in camp.

"Of course they benefitted from making their debuts, experiencing what is required to play on the Series and hopefully making them hungrier to play again," Friday said of Halliman and Leatigaga.

Ben Pinkelman has been selected to the four most recent rounds of the season, scoring three tries and stepping up in the forwards alongside Danny Barrett and Garrett Bender. The student-athlete from Colorado State University will be joined at the OTC by Kingsley McGowan, a recent graduate of D1A Rugby National Champion Saint Mary's College and one of the newest Eagles 15s caps, who just signed a professional contract with PRO Rugby's San Francisco franchise.

Though the roster is lighter than previous incarnations at the OTC, the athletes attending this week's camp will be put to the test to ensure competitive depth and tactical and technical prowess in the training group with just over four months remaining until the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

"We are focusing in specific areas," Friday said. "We need to improve accuracy and consistency together with maintaining the standards we expect from all that are a part of this environment."

The Eagles have been drawn in Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens' Pool C with Argentina, Australia, and Portugal, with kickoff of the seventh round of the Series set for Friday, April 8, at Hong Kong Stadium. The travel squad for the Asian legs will be announced at the end of the High Performance Camp prior to the squad's departure Saturday, April 2.

Men's Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp | March 24-28

Nate Augspurger - Men's Eagles Sevens

Perry Baker - Men's Eagles Sevens

Danny Barrett - Men's Eagles Sevens

Garrett Bender - Men's Eagles Sevens

Pat Blair - Men's Eagles Sevens

Nate Ebner - Men's Eagles Sevens

Will Holder - U.S. Army World-Class Athlete Program

Madison Hughes - Men's Eagles Sevens

Martin Iosefo - Men's Eagles Sevens

Carlin Isles - Men's Eagles Sevens

Ben Leatigaga - U.S. Army World-Class Athlete Program

Kingsley McGowan - San Francisco (PRO)

Folau Niua - Men's Eagles Sevens

Thretton Palamo - Men's Eagles Sevens

Ben Pinkelman - Denver Barbarians

Joey Sok - Men's Eagles Sevens

Shalom Suniula - Men's Eagles Sevens

Zack Test - Men's Eagles Sevens

Peter Tiberio - Men's Eagles Sevens

Chris Turori - Men's Eagles Sevens

Maka Unufe - Men's Eagles Sevens


Nic Edwards

Matai Leuta

Kevin Swiryn

Brett Thompson

Stephen Tomasin

Men's Eagles | Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

v. Portugal - Friday, April 8 @ 6:54 a.m. ET

v. Argentina - Saturday, April 9 @ 12:48 a.m. ET

v. Australia - Saturday, April 9 @ 5:10 a.m. ET