Irish reunion for USA’s LaValla

Much has been made of Eddie O’Sullivan’s face-off against the squad he once coached when Ireland meet the USA on Sunday, but the Group C opening Test will also see the Eagles’ forward Scott LaValla reunited with some familiar faces.

Much has been made of Eddie O’Sullivan’s face-off against the squad he once coached when Ireland meet the USA on Sunday, but the Group C opening Test will also see the Eagles’ forward Scott LaValla reunited with some familiar faces.

LaValla, who can play at lock or in the back row, spent four years studying in Ireland during which time he captained Trinity to the inaugural IRFU All-Ireland Club Sevens title and gained further experience playing for the Ulster Ravens in the past two seasons.

The experience and exposure of playing rugby in Ireland has seen the 23-year-old earn himself a contract with French giants Stade Francais who signed him in June.

The prospect of facing some old acquaintances has made this World Cup opener all the more exciting for former Dublin University man.

“I'm really looking forward to it,” he told IrishRugby.ie “Everyone I know over there is going to be watching it and I'm really excited.

“I know a few of the Irish players from my time with Ulster so I'm really looking forward to getting on and seeing what I can do on that stage.”

That the match will be played on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks simply adds to the emotion of what was already a massive occasion but LaValla believes the team won’t get distracted.

“A lot has been made of that and it's obviously a day that resonates with every American. We are going to commemorate the occasion, we're going to a service and we're going to wear some armbands in recognition of 9/11.

“It is an ever-present thing for Americans but we're very much focused on the game as well.”

With Ireland boasting a team of household names against a relatively unknown Eagles side, who rarely get to play together, LaValla knows the weight of expectation rests on the Irish players' shoulders.

“The team chemistry is uncommonly good amongst representative sides from what I've experienced.

“We’ve got a very tight group of guys here which is great for what we have ahead of us. To finally have some time together is really rare for the Eagles because we're only really in assemblies twice a year.

"You really want to hang in as long as you can. The longer you can frustrate a team that's overwhelming favourites, the more they'll start to kind of panic or start to lose a bit of their composure.

“Really the pressure is more on them than us so it does free you up to play. If you can get stuck in early, you never really know what can happen.

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