O'Sullivan's Eagles have lost both their Pool A fixtures, suffering a Churchill Cup record defeat (8-87) to England Saxons on the opening weekend at Franklin's Gardens, followed three days later by a second loss to Tonga (13-44) at Esher Rugby. Despite that, the former Ireland head coach insists the tournament has been a worthwhile experience, saying:
"It has been a very valuable Churchill Cup so far as we have had a great opportunity to look at players and combinations very closely for RWC." commented O'Sullivan.
"The first two games against a very strong Saxons team and Tonga have been tough. The Tonga result was disappointing as we fielded a much more experienced team than against the Saxons. But we looked very ring rusty and made a lot of errors.
"I am confident after our third week in camp we will play with a lot more precision on Saturday. But it will take a big performance as Russia are playing well and were unlucky to lose to Italy A. They have some dangerous backs and a very solid pack so we will need to fire on all cylinders for this one."
Saturday's team shows five changes to the starting twenty-two that lost to Tongan, as former Sale Sharks scrum-half Mike Petri is named in replacement of Tim Usasz, who moves to the bench. Phil Thiel shows the only change in the front row, replacing Chris Biller, while Louis Stanfill moves from the second row to number 8; John Van der Giessen starting at lock.
Churchill Cup finals, Saturday June 18, Sixways.
Bowl final: USA v Russia, 1200
USA: B. Scully; C. Hawley, P. Emerick, A. Suniula, K.Swiryn; N.Malifa, M. Petri; M. Moeakiola, P. Thiel, S. Pittman, J. Van der Giessen, S. Lavalla, I. Basauri, T. Clever (C), L. Stanfill. Reps: C. Biller, E. Fry, P. Danahy, N. Johnson, T. Usasz, R. Suniula, T. Enosa
Russia: I. Klyuchnikov; V. Artemyev, M. Babaev, A. Makovetsky, V. Ostroushko; Y. Kushnarev, A. Shakirov; S. Popov, V. Korshunov(C), I. Prishchepenko, A. Voytov, D. Antonov, A. Temnov, A. Garbuzov, V. Grachev Reps: V. Tsnobiladze, A. Chernyshev, A. Panasenko, V. Gresev, A. Bykanov, A. Ryabov, I. Galinovsky
Tickets remain on sale for Churchill Cup Finals Day at Sixways. Call the Warriors Box Office on 01905 454183 or click HERE to buy online.