OKINAWA, 20 Sep - The USA team resent being regarded as a second-class rugby nation and have warned the Rest of World Cup that "the sleeping giant has awoken".
The Eagles are a Tier 2 nation and ranked 13 in the world - 10 places behind England who are their opponents in their opening Pool C match in Kobe on Thursday 26 September.
Coach Gary Gold's players are determined to bridge the gap between themselves and the top tier nations and are motivated by that aim.
Full-back Will Hooley said: "A phrase which makes us cringe a little bit is this ‘sleeping giant’ thing with the USA.
"Major League Rugby has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years and will continue to build with TV rights coming in for it and clubs being affiliated with clubs abroad. Rugby also moving its way into the colleges is huge.”
Hooker James Hilterbrand said: “It’s no longer a sleeping giant as everyone wants to call it, it’s woken up and it’s happening – I think it’s just going through breakfast at the moment.
"It’s pretty much the same uphill battle we have every game, to try and prove that we can win. I don’t know what the Tier 1, Tier 2 rankings are for. Who do they serve? Can it not just be the world ranking system?"
USA general manager Dave Hodges insists the team refuse to be disheartened by their Tier 2 label. "When you categorise someone as a tier below, it’s a way to keep them down," he said.
"Maybe it’s not that malicious in terms of how it was set out, but it can be if you allow yourselves to be categorised that way.
"We prefer to refer to our rankings, that’s who we are. We’re ranked 13th right now and we endeavour to get into the top 10 and go from there."