BOULDER, Colo. – The USA Men’s Sevens team departs Sunday for Hong Kong to take part in the fifth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. The team will face pool opponents Japan, China, and England on March 25.
Head coach Al Caravelli had several spots to fill due to injury, so the Hong Kong traveling squad sees three players being added to the fold.
Two new faces, Taylor Mokate and Peter Tiberio, hail from the collegiate ranks and a seasoned veteran in international fifteens and sevens, Todd Clever, joins the team.
A University of Oklahoma star, former USA Under-20/Junior All-American captain and two time Collegiate All-American, Mokate gets an official call up to Team USA after filling in for injured players in the USA Sevens last month in Las Vegas. Mokate is a hard-charging forward that is a threat in the air and set pieces.
Tiberio plays for the University of Arizona and is a three time Collegiate All-American. Tiberio brings some serious pace out wide and can play multiple positions.
Todd Clever returns from his professional club in Japan to play for Team USA. Even though he hasn’t played sevens since the 2009 Sevens Rugby World Cup, Clever fits in very well and is familiar with the team’s systems and many of his teammates. Clever brings leadership, experience, and skills that will boost the young squad.
Even with the changes, Caravelli is targeting consistency, defense, and refined skill work from his players.
“Training camp started off slow but kicked into turbo drive Tuesday afternoon,” said Coach Caravelli.
“Because of the way the squad responded to camp we were able to apply more pressure on defense. The other item that we needed to work on was our passing.”
“The squad came together, gelled, and increased its teamwork around our defensive patterns. The last four sessions have been on the upswing. We still have a lot of growth for this young squad but we are headed in the right direction.”
Sevens regulars have confirmed their spots after solid performances on previous Series stops. Colin Hawley, brings the versatility of being able to play every position. Marco Barnard has turned into a real playmaker with a staunch go-forward style of play. A standout in Las Vegas, scoring four tries for the Eagles, speedster and aerial attack expert Zack Test returns to the squad. Paul “Cactus” Emerick earned his spot once again after notching four tries himself in Vegas and having an overall excellent tournament. Shalom Suniula returns to the squad in full health after a nagging injury kept him out of a bulk of the action in Vegas. Looking as strong as ever, Shalom’s brother Roland returns to the squad as do fliers Miles Craigwell and Justin Boyd. Last but certainly not least is the solid, consistent, and extremely tough team captain Matt “Polar Bear” Hawkins.
USA Men’s Sevens Traveling Squad – Hong Kong Sevens 2011
Marco Barnard (Harlequins, Pretoria), Justin Boyd (Frisco Griffins), Todd Clever (Suntory), Miles Craigwell (NYAC), Paul Emerick (Life), Matthew Hawkins (Belmont Shore), Colin Hawley (The Olympic Club), Taylor Mokate (University of Oklahoma), Roland Suniula (Boston RFC), Shalom Suniula (Brisbane), Zack Test (At Large), Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona).
Jarrod Beckstrom, USA Rugby