New mentor for USA Eagles
Former USA Eagles defensive coach Mike Tolkin has made the step up to replace Eddie O' Sullivan as head coach of the American national team.
A New York native, Tolkin has coached in the U.S. at various levels since 1986, and has an impressive record as a coach at the high school, senior club, and international levels.
Having been part of the set-up at the World Cup last year he hopes to build on the strides made in New Zealand by working closely with the age-group coaches to ensure that the Eagles are even more competitive at the next global showpiece.
He said: "I hope to build on our performance from the World Cup, qualify for the next one, and to mix in our new and upcoming players.
"I certainly have a good relationship with age-grade and club coaches and look forward to working with them very closely," said Tolkin, who helped establish the USA Under-19 team in 1992.
He started his coaching career at Xavier High School in New York City guiding them to three National Championships, six National Championship games, 17 National Championship Semifinals, and 20 Regional Championships.
In 2000 Tolkin also took the reins of then Division I now Rugby Super League (RSL) team, New York Athletic Club (NYAC). In 12 years, NYAC won three RSL National Championships and made a total of eight post-season appearances, including an appearance in the Division I National Championship game in 2001.
Xavier old boy, NYAC starter, and vice-captain of the Eagles, scrumhalf Mike Petri has played for Tolkin for over a decade and is confident that he is the man for the job.
"I've never met anyone who cares about the sport more than [Tolkin] does. He'll never settle for less than excellence and he brings that to coaching. He has a competitive, winning mentality and guys buy in to that. They want to play for him," Petri said.
Tolkin also has a strong background in talent identification and player development, serving as a talent recognition selector for former USA head coach, Tom Billups in 2001.
Tolkin's team will face their first test on June 9 when they face Canada in Kingston, Ontario. The USA will also play two home games against Georgia and Italy on June 16 and 23.