In part 4 of the complete roster breakdown, we look at the scrumhalf position. Year to year, this has been one of the most consistent positions on the team, with Danny Tusitala being the mainstay in the 9 jersey. This year will likely be no different, as no new players were added. However, a player leaving raises questions about depth.
The captain returns
Danny Tusitala, the one of the most recognizable Old Glory player, remains under contract and will lead the team at scrumhalf once again. He was widely seen as one of the best scrumhalves in the league in 2020 and 2021, but he had a smaller impact in 2022 due to the struggles of the team as a whole. While a good scrumhalf can make big difference, there's only so much one to get a struggling team moving forward. If he can build a good report with new flyhalf Tito Diaz Bonilla, expect a resurgence in form from Tusitala.
An interesting storyline to watch will be whether he continues as captain. When Mungo Mason left and Thretton Palamo got injured, Tusitala was selected to lead the team. While he performed that role reasonably, it also may have put pressure on him to act in a way that limited his potential as a game-changing firebrand. While definitely a leader on the team, we might see someone else take on the captain's armband.
Promising local John Lefevre, who impressed in his moments last season, will also return. He has been busy in the offseason, too, competing with the USA Falcons squad that toured South America in the fall. As US-qualified scrumhalf who can also play on the wing, we might see quite a bit of Lefevre as cover for both positions on the bench. Foreign slots are going to be a concern this year, so a domestic player with talent will have opportunities.
Back down to just one Danny
Tusitala's understudy of the last two years, Danny Thomas, will not be returning. Thomas was a reliable backup, being very capable of keeping the team moving when Tusitala wasn't on the field. He was also a valuable asset in the community coaching local youth teams.
Expectations for 2023
I'm really hoping that we see Tusitala return to his previous form, and for that his dynamics with Diaz Bonilla will be key. I can see him having a great year this year, which the fans should enjoy. I also expect a lot from Lefevre. He has a ton of talent and this could be something of a breakout season for him.
There is one potential issue, though: the depth chart is shallower than I would have hoped. While Tusitala does take up most of the playing time at the position, injuries can and do happen. It feels risky to have only two dedicated scrumhalves on the roster, even if other players from the backline could step in if necessary. Maybe we get lucky and no one gets hurt, but getting lucky is not something you can plan on.
Check out the rest of the series: