Eagles must be brave - Basauri
PA Sport
September 4, 2007

United States flanker Inaki Basauri has urged his team-mates to "be courageous" when they face a daunting World Cup opener against defending champions England on Saturday.

The Eagles will arrive in Lens with little realistic hope of upsetting England's World Cup campaign at the first hurdle.

Despite the experience and expertise offered by their New Zealand head coach Peter Thorburn and USA rugby boss Nigel Melville, a former England captain, Basauri and company should finish a distant second best.

But enthusiasm and commitment will not be lacking from the Pool A outsiders, whose previous four meetings against England produced defeats of 34-6, 37-9, 106-8 and 48-19.

Basauri said: ``I believe we have the team that can take it to them, as long as we play to our potential.''

``And I think the fans back at home are behind us. They expect us to play to our potential.

``We are all going out there to show the world what we have, and what we have been preparing for over the past four years. It will be a great experience.

``I think we just have to play what is in front of us and do our best, be courageous, make tackles and make plays. It is about making everything happen.''

Thorburn, whose squad are preparing for the match in Lille, hopes to see America's forwards make a statement.

The ex-Bristol coach said: ``I think people may be quite surprised at the size of some of our players.

``We have a very big pack, and that is where we hope to be competitive.''

And Eagles lock Mike Mangan added: ``This is a huge opportunity to see where our best mark is. We are going in to give it all we have got.

``The good thing is that there are a few guys who have played in front of a huge crowd before in college football, so I think we will be okay with that.

``And being the underdog makes it easier to face a big crowd. There is sometimes more pressure on the team that is supposed to win.''

Thorburn is due to announce his starting line-up on Thursday afternoon.

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