Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Pressure piling onto Eagles scrum half Mike Petri


In the wake of the USA’s disappointing draw against Uruguay, pressure is mounting on the selection of scrum half Mike Petri, who has come under criticism from US supporters.

Petri made his international debut at the 2007 World Cup, 7 years later he has won 40 caps had (very brief) stints at Sale and the Dragons and is one of the Eagles most experienced players. He has been very much first choice scrum half over Mike Tolkin's time in charge,  he's been in the matchday 23 whenever available and normally started. That position has come under pressure though from fans, further increased by another poor performance against Uruguay in Montevideo.

Before the game This Is American Rugby noted that neither Petri, along with his half back partner Toby L’Estrange "has been particularly strong over the last year" and that he had a poor run of matches throughout 2013.

It's fair to say the game in Montevideo wasn't one Petri's best. There was some poor decision making, poor often slow service from the ruck. This Is American Rugby said his poor form only "regressed" and commenting fans equally were not impressed.

As happens many times when a coach switches from domestic to international in a team sport, Mike Tolkin has been accused of favouritism by some. Tolkin was previously in charge of rugby both at NYAC and Xavier High School, both where Petri has also has spent nearly all of his career. Fans have complained that Petri is Tolkin's "favourite son" and that the NYAC connection is "running thin".

Some have also speculated that turbulence amongst those close to Petri may not have seen in fully prepared last weekend. Over the week his little brother Chris, from the so called "Brooklyn’s first family of rugby", was arrested and charged with arson for burning down a shed which resulted in the entire Penn State University team being suspended.

With calls for Petri to be dropped, if Tolkin retains him he needs a big performance over the second leg. Robbie Shaw of London Scottish would be the most likely alternative at scrum half, although he was strangely dropped from the entire 23 man squad last weekend as Petri played the full 80.

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