Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Matt Hawkins Brings New Players to the Olympic Training Center

With Folau Niua gone moving on to the Glasgow Warriors and Carlin Isles apparently following suit, there are a few opening available for in Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center.  USA Eagles Head Coach Matt Hawkins has wasted no time in filling those openings with qualified veteran rugby players.

Will Holder has been accepted into the Army's World Class Athlete Program and is now able to make the move to Chula Vista.  The 22 year old West Point alumni  and former All American has been long rumored to join the program and it appears the paper work has finally come through, making him eligible to serve his country while playing for the Eagles.  Holder will be the sixth WCAP player to join the Eagles.

Thretton Palamo is the other young man making the move to the Olympic Training center.  Many will remember Palamo as the youngest player to participate in a Rugby World Cup, or for his breakout performance for the University of Utah at the inaugural CRC in Columbus Ohio.  Since then Palamo has focused on football where he was a running back and a defensive and outside linebacker for the University of Utah.  He's now entering his final semester where he'll graduate in May with a degree in Sports Management.

Speaking with the 25 year old while out at the Las Vegas Sevens, he admitted he was not sure what the future could hold for him.  Several NFL teams expressed interest in the young talent.  We've seen rugby players successfully make the conversion to the NFL in recent years.  Ohio State product Nate Ebner being the best example as he continues to log productive minutes for the New England Patriots.

Thretton would love to follow in those footsteps.  However, he understands the reality of it all.  In addition he comes from a family with a strong rugby tradition, with both his brothers holding USA Caps as well.

Palamo told RugbyMag ; “I grew up with rugby and rugby’s just always been fun for me,

He will spend the spring at the Olympic Training Center re-acclimating to  rugby and waiting to see what the NFL Draft holds for him.

For the Eagles these are two solid pick ups.  While neither has the speed of Carlin Isles (who does?) or the flair of Folau Niua, both are big elusive athletes with a strong rugby background.  Holder has the ability to make an immediate impact, and it will not take long for Palamo to get back into rugby mode.  Both are solid pickups by Matt Hawkins, as he looks to increase the depth and the talent pool at the Olympic Training Center.

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