Eagles selected for Asian legs of Sevens Series

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Carlin Isles, Zack Test, and Maka Unufe all return to the Men's Eagles Sevens for Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and HSBC Singapore Sevens, the seventh and eighth legs of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, respectively.

The trio was unavailable for the first-ever Series stop in Canada - HSBC Canada Sevens - earlier this month, where Mike Friday's squad reached its eighth consecutive Cup Quarterfinal and the tournament's Plate Final. Isles was given permission by the coaching staff to chase his dream of running track at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games with an appearance at the 2016 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships, while Test and Unufe recovered from injuries sustained at HSBC USA Sevens in Las Vegas the week prior.

Despite missing three influential veterans with 106 combined appearances on the circuit, the Eagles finished second in their pool behind eventual Cup winner New Zealand and took Fiji beyond the 14th minute in the Cup Quarterfinals. Perry Baker led the team with seven tries in six matches and Martin Iosefo plugged in to the midfield role and scored four tries in a Dream Team-selection performance.

Young Ben Pinkelman also started all six matches in his fourth Series appearance, shoring up the forwards alongside Danny Barrett and Garrett Bender. The Colorado State University student-athlete and Denver Barbarians club man has now earned his fifth and sixth consecutive national team call-up just two months after he made his debut at HSBC Wellington Sevens.

"Ben has equipped himself well and continues to improve the more he plays, and gives us added strength in the forwards," Friday said. "We are just very mindful that we balance his studies and ensure that this is not compromised as he has some important exams coming up that we are all confident and supportive that he passes."

Not seen on the circuit since Friday's first tournament with the team at the start of the 2014-15 season, Peter Tiberio has been recalled to the 12-man national team for the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the Series. The University of Arizona graduate and Pan Am Games 2011 bronze medalist captained the USA Falcons at the Las Vegas Invitational tournament at the beginning of the month, a Cup-winning performance for the development side.

"'Tibs' has been training exceptionally well and continued that form following his impressive showing at the LVI," Friday said. "The added strength that 'Tibs' has is his versatility; whilst he can play at nine or 10, he is equally comfortable at center or hooker and has the skill sets to fit in at any of these positions. We are excited to see how he progresses as he is now fully fit and injury-free having been in the residency program these last four months."

Though he was not selected in the travel squad, Nate Ebner will be in Hong Kong with the Samurai International Rugby Football Club's team at GFI Hong Kong Football Club 10s. The New England Patriots' special teams star has been at the Olympic Training Center since the middle of the month and partook in his first High Performance Camp under Friday and Chris Brown last week, and will get more competitive rugby under his belt in an effort to push for Olympic selection.

"Nate has adapted well and has surprised us all with how well he is starting to pick things up," Friday said. "He still has a number of areas which are very much work-in-progress, and part of that learning process he will only get from playing competitive rugby games.

"The Hong Kong 10s provides a great opportunity to reintegrate Nate back into the game in a highly-competitive tournament, and playing with the most well-known international invitational team, Samurai International. Nate will be part of a squad with players who have represented their respective countries on the circuit this year."

The Eagles retained their fifth-place standing on the Series with 12 points from Vancouver, and were drawn into Pool C in Hong Kong with Argentina (sixth), Australia (fourth), and Portugal (16th). The 41st edition of the tournament will be held at Hong Kong Stadium April 8-10 local time, with the U.S. kicking off its pool play against Portugal at 6:54 a.m. ET Friday, April 8. All matches will be streamed live on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens / HSBC Singapore Sevens
1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Peter Tiberio
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Nate Augspurger
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo

Men's Eagles Sevens | 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