7s Players Assemble in Chula Vista
Thursday Sep 10, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby USA 7s
(Ian Muir photo)
The USA 7s team assembles at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Thursday evening as coach Al Caravelli sifts through 31 players to establish his squad for the coming season.
The players gather amid growing rumors that the USA will go the way of Kenya and, most recently, Scotland and professionalize the program thanks to the investment of an outside source.
But nothing has been finalized along those lines, and Caravelli is instead concerned with working with the players he has, and a UPS shipment of balls, kit and equipment that appears to be late.
Caravelli’s choices are the result of his scouting through the 7s season and long talks with players to establish their availability. Meanwhile in the wings are several injured players who are making their way back, and several college players already in school, who could well feature in the USA plans this season.
The squad for the current camp is:
Cory Blair, Matt Byrd, Ben Haapapura, Keikio Misipeka, Brian Naqica, Leonard Peters, Mark Roberts, Dallas Robinson, Peter Sio, Grant Thorne, Kevin Wiggins, Fred Wintermantel, Marco Barnard, Ben Catania, Elliott Rechtin, Trevor Richards, PJ Komongnan, Ata Malifa, Shalom Suniula, Valenese Malifa, Iopu Sanonu, Jone Naqica, Suli Nahou Unaloto, Mile Pulu, Kevin Swiryn, Dimitri Efthimiou, Jonathan Pratter, Mike Nelson, Alex Ross, Eric Walton, Clint Whittler
In addition, the injured players include Matt Hawkins, Mike Palefau, Rikus Pretorius, Justin Boyd, Mark Bokhoven, Tai Enosa and Volney Rouse. They will have their shot when they are healthy.
Also, Anwar Salaam, who is just coming back from injury, is not attendiing because this is Islam's holy month of Rammadan, and Salaam is fasting.
All of those players are shooting for one of 20 places in what can be considered the main USA 7s team.