Now that the Eagles summer series has come to a close with a dramatic win over Canada it’s time to hand out our awards.
MVP: Blaine Scully & Chris Wyles
It’s very safe to say that without the contributions of Scully and Wyles the Eagles would have had a miserable summer and would not have been competitive in any of their matches. Scully was responsible for five of the team’s eight total tries. Many of those tries came from being in good positions and from finishing strong. The person sending in the final ball on a few of those tries was Wyles, who had a try himself thanks to Scully. Wyles also helped the team with his boot, missing only a couple of his kicks. Defensively both made outstanding plays.
Best Forward: Todd Clever
Shifting away from the No. 8 position to flanker has given Clever new life. He had a fantastic summer series both from a playing and from a leadership standpoint. Clever did much of the dirty work his team needed by putting in hard hits and making a break when the Eagles needed something going forward. He also had a much better summer in his relationship with the referees. Cam Dolan, despite limited minutes, Scott LaValla, and Danny Barrett were also in this conversation.
Best Back: Shalom Suniula
Tasked with getting the Eagles offense going Suniula did well in his first long stint at fly-half. He wasn’t perfect but by the third match of the series he had fully settled in and had good chemistry with Mike Petri and the rest of the backs. He put in several good skip passes that set the wings free to run. Suniula deserves a lot of credit for the team’s eight tries, a number they haven’t had for awhile.
Most Improved: Mike Petri & Nick Wallace
Petri and Wallace share this award because both improved equally but in separate areas. Petri has taken a lot of flack for his performances over the past year and not without cause. He didn’t have his greatest match against Scotland but by Canada he was one of the better players on the field. He got better at delivering a faster ball and his defense was solid. Wallace was the prop that seemed to have improved the most since last fall. He did enough to dislodge Eric Fry from his starting spot.
Rookie: Danny Barrett
There weren’t a lot of new caps on the Eagles roster this summer and only Barrett and Brett Thompson saw significant time. Barrett played some of the best rugby of his career this summer and has given the Eagles another option in the already stacked back-row. He brings fight and also good running ability from his time with the 7s team. If he can continue to improve it could allow the Eagles to play people in other positions making the squad as a whole better.