One of the primary reasons for naming Mike Tolkin as Eagle coach, continuity, will be tested in next month's World Cup qualifying series with Canada.
Promoting Eddie O'Sullivan's defense coach to the top job was seen as a means of managing the short, 21-month distance between the 2011 world championship and the summer 2013 qualifiers. Simultaneously, it was intended to make the most of America's veteran internationals, many of whom remain front and center.
'Mike is looking forward to continuing the work started by [Eddie]', chief executive Nigel Melville said upon Tolkin's appointment.
Riding a 1-4 streak into the World Cup, O'Sullivan's charges turned in gutty efforts against Ireland and Italy and a perfunctory win over Russia. Tolkin heads into August's vital home-and-away series on an 0-5 skein, dipping to 18th in the world rankings.
As much as three-fifths of the apparent first-choice XV persist from New Zealand. The veteran corps features backs Chris Wyles, Takudwa Ngwenya, Andrew Suniula, and Mike Petri and forwards Shawn Pittman, Chris Biller, Lou Stanfill, and Todd Clever.
The average age of the starting lineup against Ireland was 27, as it was against Japan in the final Pacific Nations match, a relatively high number for the middle of the quadrennial cycle.
If relatively few youngsters have become front-line players, it is not because the Eagles have lacked matches. The US has played 13 internationals over the past 13 months, fully 5 more than it played between the 2007 World Cup and the 2009 qualifiers.
Tolkin has retained several of his 2011 colleagues, including Dan Payne, Chris O'Brien, and Dave Williams. Further, Boulder's leading high performance managers, Luke Gross and Matt Sherman (as well as Williams, the strength and conditioning specialist), have been on scene since 2009 or before, while Melville, in his capacity as president of rugby operations, has been at the helm since 2006.