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USA 7s Team Has Many to Choose From

Tuesday Sep 1, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby USA 7s

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(Some picks are easy. Kevin Swiryn returns for 2009-2010. Numina Photo.)

USA 7s coach Al Caravelli would like to go through the 2009-2010 sevens season with 17 players.

Given how the IRB season is becoming more and more demanding, and given that several of some of Caravelli’s best candidates are in college during a good portion of the season, Caravelli may well have to draw on his depth. He won’t need the 34 or so he used last season, but 17 could be a stretch.

With a national camp at Chula Vista on the horizon, where Caravelli will pick his core of 20 or so players to go through the season, we look at more than 50 players who might be in with a shot.

Caravelli has a wealth of players to pick from. The level of competition at the national championships and at the NASC was very high, and that means more good players available. Here, then, is our list of players who might be considered:

First of all, those not on the lists: Todd Clever, Chris Wyles and Takudzwa Ngwenya are all deep into their professional contracts and won’t be playing 7s anytime soon.

Zach Pangelinan is not in the mix for personal reasons, and Dallen Stanford has retired from international 7s. Jason Pye has withdrawn himself from consideration (for now).

Players who will be in school during most of the season:
Thretton Palamo, Zack Test, Marco Barnard, Steve St. Pierre, Manti Su’a, Colin Hawley, Blaine Scully, Ata Malifa, Dustin Muhn, Richard Herbert, Danny Barrett, Kyle Grossheider

Of these, some (Hawley, Scully, Palamo, Test and Grossheider) will be available for the early and late tournaments, but not all of them. Barnard should be available in 2010.

Injured players:
Justin Boyd, Mark Bokhoven, Matt Hawkins, Peter Dahl, Rikus Pretorius, Tai Enosa, Volney Rouse.

Of these, Bokhoven, Hawkins, Enosa and Pretorius should be healthy soon.

Players who we expect to be central to the USA effort:
Kevin Swiryn, Nese Malifa, Jone Naqica, Mike Palefau, Leonard Peters, PJ Komongnan

Players who played well at nationals or the all-stars and are well-known to the USA setup:
National Championships MVP Peter Sio
NASC MVP Dewon Reed
Cory Blair, Matt Byrd, Mark Roberts, Mile Pulu, Brian Naqica, Ryan Nichols, Merritt Johnson, Jonathan Pratter, Alex Ross, Grant Dismuke

Players coming back from injury who Caravelli has looked at before:
Clint Whittler, Anwar Salaam, Dallas Robinson, Shalom Suniula

Players who showed well at the NASC or Nationals (or both) and who haven’t spent a lot of time at USA camps (if any): Mark Eichner, Aotlealoa Holani Nahaou Unaloto “Suli”, Ryan Kaut, Ben Haapapuro, Danny La Prevotte, Kevin Wiggins, Ben Catania, Trevor Richards, Mike Nelson, Jeremy Nash and Fred Wintermantel

And you can bet there are at least a couple of other names. Caravelli always has them.

But that is 52 names Caravelli might be considering. He will be hard-pressed, for example, to leave out Wintermantel despite the NOVA players age (he’s 30). Wintermantel was outstanding for NOVA in San Francisco and also for the Mid-Atlantic in New York. He is physical, hard-working, multi-skilled, and smart.

But like anyone else at the camp, he’s going to have a lot of competition.

- Alex Goff

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