The most anticipated and arguably the most important rugby match in the United States is set for Saturday when the USA Eagles host the New Zealand All Blacks.  The 2 head coaches took care of one final formality when they named their starting XV’s on Thursday.

Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin kept his focus on his team, saying; “Our selections were based more on how we wanted to play. [The All Blacks] present a big challenge, so worrying too much about them would be counter productive.”

“We had the line-up in place in our heads already and just confirmed it with training this week.”

And this will be a somewhat familiar line-up with only 3 changes made from the starting XV from the last match of the summer.

Todd Clever, making his 60th appearance for the national team, will captain the side.  After some negotiations, the English Premiership players were released allowing Eric Fry, Samu Manoa, and Hayden Smith to take the field.

Veteran Mike Petri takes the reigns at scrum half while relative new-boy Danny Barrett, making his 3rd, start will play the #8 role.  The other players in the starting line-up are: Phil Thiel, Olive Kilifi, Scott Lavalla, Adam Siddall, Brett Thompson, Andrew Suniula, Seamus Kelly, Blaine Scully, and Chris Wyles.

Richie McCaw has been the center of the media attention (above with a ceremonial shot at the NHL Chicago Blackhawks match) but will not be playing on Sunday.  Dan Carter, who has won 100 caps for the All Blacks, is back from injury and probably will play but in a role off the bench.  Kieran Read, the 2013 IRB Player of the Year, will captain the side.

“This is going to be an exciting occasion for the team, playing the USA in front of a record crowd here in Chicago, and it’s great to be here representing the All Blacks and New Zealand,” All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said.  “While we are giving a number of players another opportunity this weekend, our expectation is that they will play to the highest level and we get a quality performance.”

The Eagles vs All Blacks kicks off at 3 p.m. CT and will be aired LIVE on NBC with coverage starting at 2:30 CT.  Universal Sports will have a pre-game show starting at 1:30 CT.

Men’s Eagles | v New Zealand All Blacks
1. Eric Fry
2. Phil Thiel
3. Olive Kilifi
4. Samu Manoa
5. Hayden Smith
6. Todd Clever (C)
7. Scott Lavalla
8. Danny Barrett
9. Mike Petri
10. Adam Siddall
11. Brett Thompson
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Seamus Kelly
14. Blaine Scully
15. Chris Wyles

Men’s Eagles | Reserves
16. Tom Coolican
17. Nick Wallace
18. Mate Moeakiola
19. Tai Tuisamoa
20. Louis Stanfill
21. Shalom Suniula
22. Folau Niua
23. Troy Hall

Starting XV

1. Joe Moody (5)
2. Nathan Harris (1)
3. Charlie Faumuina (23)
4. Jeremy Thrush (9)
5. Patrick Tuipulotu (4)
6. Victor Vito (24)
7. Sam Cane (20)
8. Kieran Read (69)
9. TJ Perenara (7)
10. Aaron Cruden (35)
11. Charles Piutau (11)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (19)
13. Ryan Crotty (9)
14. Cory Jane (52)
15. Israel Dagg (44)


16. Keven Mealamu (120)
17. Wyatt Crockett (33)
18. Ben Franks (38)
19. Brodie Retallick (33)
20. Liam Messam (36)
21. Augustine Pulu *
22. Daniel Carter (100)
23. Julian Savea (29)