Friday selects Men's Eagles Sevens squad for Wellington Sevens

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – National Team Recruitment Camp standout Ahmad Harajly could earn his first cap with the Men’s Eagles Sevens after Head Coach Mike Friday selected the Detroit Tradesmen player for Wellington Sevens, the fourth leg of the 2014-15 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series.

The Eagles are in Pool A in New Zealand with France, Japan, and Series-leading South Africa. Day One at Westpac Stadium kicks off Thursday, Feb. 5, in the American time zones.

Harajly and Mataiyasi Leuta were the two athletes invited to last week’s Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp from the first National Team Recruitment Camp at the Olympic Training Center the previous weekend.

“The Recruitment Camp boys – obviously they worked so hard to get there and sacrificed a lot to get to the combine – just continued that work ethic and, behavior-wise, and with the culture, they’ve slipped in seamlessly,” Friday said. “It just illustrates there are no sacred cows; nobody’s safe.

“You’ve got to earn your opportunity and Ahmad has managed to do that.”

Having played rugby for six years, Harajly had the necessary skills and knowledge to stand above the other 55 athletes (excluding Leuta) at the Recruitment Camp, including American footballers and similar crossover-to-rugby athletes.

Nic Edwards also returns to the Eagles for his first appearance on the Series since Gold Coast Sevens in October 2014, the first leg of the current season. Former AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Madison Hughes will captain the squad for the fourth consecutive leg.

Though only two replacements were made in the Eagles’ squad, Friday commented on the improvement in competition for places in the team at the Olympic Training Center.

“From a camp perspective it was a significant improvement, but more in the collaborative education on and off the pitch to solve problems and solve the bits where we need to get better,” he said. “It wasn’t just coaches telling; it was a problem-solving, two-way street, which was very refreshing and pleasing and just another small step in the evolution of where we are.

“It felt a far stronger environment than it’s felt previously. People have a real sense of where they fit to add value and what happens if they don’t.”

The Eagles currently hold the ninth-place position in the Series standings after three tournaments. Pool mate South Africa leads the table with 59 points, more than twice as much as the Eagles’ 26.

Following the trip across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand, the Eagles will travel to Las Vegas for the home leg of the Series, USA Sevens. Tickets are still available for the Feb. 13-15 event at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Watch the Eagles at Wellington Sevens beginning with their match against Japan at 6:21 p.m. ET on Universal Sports and follow live updates with @USARugby on Twitter.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Wellington Sevens
Perry Baker
Danny Barrett
Garrett Bender
Andrew Durutalo
Nic Edwards
Ahmad Harajly
Madison Hughes (C)
Martin Iosefo
Carlin Isles
Folau Niua
Zack Test
Maka Unufe

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Non-traveling Reserves
Zach Pangelinan
Aladdin Schirmer

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Wellington Sevens
v. Japan – Thursday, Feb. 5 – 6:21 p.m. ET
v. France – Thursday, Feb. 5 – 9:14 p.m. ET
v. South Africa – Friday, Feb. 6 – 12:10 a.m. ET