USA have Russia in their sights
WHANGANUI, 3 Sept. - With eight days to go until their opening match against Ireland, USA captain Todd Clever believes his team are strong enough to secure their third win at a Rugby World Cup.
But he is realistic enough to concede it will probably not come on 11 September.
The Eagles trained in perfect sunshine at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui on Saturday afternoon, and Clever said his players were desperate for a chance to prove themselves against the best in the world.
"We've worked so hard to be here and people are very excited," he said. "Playing for the US team, we don't get to face top international teams all the time, so we have to make the most of it every four years."
This will be the first RWC for many USA players, and they face tough opposition in Pool C, which includes Australia, Ireland, Italy and Russia.
"We want to start off strong, but it's a huge ask against Ireland," said Clever. "Four short days later we've got Russia, and that's going to be a tough game, but it's one that we're picking out to get a victory from."
USA coach Eddie O'Sullivan, who coached his native Ireland for more than six years, confirmed the Eagles would be gunning for the Russians, who they beat 32-25 in their most recent meeting at the Churchill Cup in England in June.
"That's the one we're targeting to try and win, there's no secret about that, and I'm sure Russia have targeted us in the same way," he said.
O'Sullivan plans to use the match against Ireland as a trial run and hinted he might gamble on some fringe players.
"We'll have a little wriggle room in some positions, but we'll go as close to full on as we can," he said.
"We need a game, to get guys on the field and experience the atmosphere of the World Cup. We might roll the dice a little bit."
The Eagles' two RWC victories, both over Japan, came in 1987 and 2003.
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