USA seek Herc-ulean effort
PA Sport
September 29, 2007

United States captain Mike Hercus admits he is ``honoured'' and ``excited'' by the prospect of mixing it with South Africa's finest in Montpellier tomorrow.

The Eagles' hopes of avoiding a World Cup whitewash plummeted yesterday when Springboks coach Jake White named a close to full-strength team for the final Pool A clash.

USA are odds-on to slip to a fourth successive defeat, but that is not stopping Hercus looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead against the tournament's second favourites

``We're excited to be pitting ourselves against the best teams in the world,'' said the fly-half, his country's all-time leading points scorer with 376.

``I'm honoured that South Africa have picked a strong team. They could have put out a B side.

``South Africa are a different animal to any of the sides we have played. They have a bit of everything.''

The World Cup calendar has not helped the Americans' chances this tournament.

Their first two games - against England and Tonga - were played in the space of four days.

And then after a wait of two weeks they are being forced to play the Springboks four days after a tough clash against a fired-up Samoa side.

``It's been a long month, having had both sets of games four days apart. It makes it more difficult for us,'' admitted Hercus.

Coach Peter Thorburn, taking charge of the US for the last time, has nonetheless stuck largely with the same team that lost narrowly to the Samoans 25-21.

There are just two changes, with number eight Dan Payne and lock Mike Mangan returning.

Payne comes in for Fifita Mounga, who was taken to hospital on Wednesday night after suffering a serious injury against Samoa.

Mounga, who underwent tests for spinal injuries and had an MRI scan, has regained feeling in his fingers and toes but was not considered for this weekend.

Mangan, meanwhile, replaces Hayden Mexted in the second row.

Thorburn has included Thretton Palamo among his replacements, and the winger could rewrite the World Cup record books if he was to come on.

Turning 19 just last weekend, the uncapped San Francisco flyer would be the youngest player in the tournament's 20-year history.

``It's cool. It will be great to be in the history books, but I guess it's the luck of the draw,'' he said.

``There must have been a lot of players around the same age so I guess I was born at the right time.''

On his call-up, Palamo added: ``I'm relieved, I guess. It has been difficult to get on the field because we have a lot of strength in my position.

``It's a privilege to make the 22. Two months before the World Cup I thought I would be watching the games on television.

``It's a great experience. I was nervous watching the first game against England and I wasn't even in the 22.''

The US have not been blown away yet in this competition. They lost 28-10 to world champions England and then were narrow 25-15 losers to Tonga.

In both matches they started poorly and they did the same in midweek when they found themselves 22-3 down to Samoa at the interval.

They came up short despite a gallant second-half fightback, and Thorburn will be desperate to see his team pick up where they left off in St Etienne.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Mexican GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open