Three Old Glory Players Announced in Eagles Player Pool
By: Alistair Kirsch-Poole
May 11, 2023 - 5:15pm
Scott Lawrence, the new head coach for the US Eagles national team, has announced the player pool for the summer tests. Despite missing the World Cup, which will start in September, the Eagles have put together an excellent lineup of opponents to play in August: Romania, Portugal, and Georgia.
Three Old Glory players were announced as part of the player pool: Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz, Jack Iscaro, and Collin Grosse.
Fa'anana-Schultz is the most experienced of the three, having debuted with the Eagles in 2019 and earned 9 caps overall. He was very impressive in the RWC Final Qualifying Tournament last fall, so it isn't surprising that he's been invited back. However, he will have stiff competition for the 8 jersey, with Riekert Hattingh, Luke White, and Thomas Tu'avao also picture. Fa'anana-Schultz is the youngest of the lot but also has the most caps. Hattingh appeared twice for the US, but was left out last year after a drug suspension. White and Tu'avao are uncapped but have impressed in MLR this season.
Iscaro earned two caps last fall in the RWC Final Qualifying Tournament after a strong showing with the Falcons in South Africa. He has continued his good form this season in the MLR, which has earned him a place on this list. He will be competing with Chance Wenglewski, David Ainu'u, and Faka'osi Pifeleti at loosehead prop. With Ainu'u playing in France's Top 14 and being a veteran Eagle with 19 caps, he will the favorite to take the starting spot. Wenglewski has 11 caps, most of those before 2021, and Pifeleti has one cap and hasn't appeared since 2021.
Grosse has yet to debut for the national team, but was a star in college and played for the Falcons in South America last year. He has been a sensation in his first year with Old Glory, contending for rookie of the year. Two of his fellow blindside flankers, Keni Nasoqeqe and Lance Williams, are also uncapped in 15s, although the latter has played for the Eagles 7s team. Vili Helu is also on the list, and with 3 caps he officially the most experienced. At 23-years-old, Grosse is the youngest of the four by a significant margin, with Helu being 27, Nasoqeqe being 29, and Williams being 30.
With a new head coach comes a fresh competition for spots on the roster. All three Old Glory players are well positioned to compete, but they will also have to prove themselves if they want a shot at playing this fall. According coach Lawrence, "final selection will now come down to character above talent." Players will have to prove over the next couple of months of that they are worthy of being included in the traveling roster, which will cut this list of 54 down to about 30.
The announcement calls out players who would be expected to contribute but who are dealing with injuries. This includes two more Old Glory players, Mike Dabulas and Cory Daniel. Both have long-term injury concerns that will hold them out of these summer tests.
There's also a former Old Glory player on the roster, hooker Mikey Sosene-Feagai. He played from two seasons at Old Glory, converting a successful 2021 season into a contract in France's professional ranks.