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Chris O'Brien would not be surprised to see USA shock Scotland

Published 26/09/2015

The United States are looking to bounce back from last week's World Cup defeat to Samoa
The United States are looking to bounce back from last week's World Cup defeat to Samoa

United States kicking coach Chris O'Brien admits the Eagles have arrived at the World Cup with "zero superstars" - but he would still not be surprised to see the Eagles shock Scotland on Sunday.

The US take on the Scots in Leeds looking to bounce back from their opening defeat to Samoa.

Victory at Elland Road for Mike Tolkin's squad would provide Pool B with its second major upset following Japan's stunning win over South Africa last week.

But having watched the hard-working Americans make significant strides over the past 12-month since losing to the Scots 24-6 in Texas last summer, O'Brien is not sure it would not rank in the shock category.

He told Press Association Sport: "[A win over Scotland] would be great. Everybody is looking for the tier-two countries to do well so any time a tier-two knocks off a tier-one it's a big result. It would be great for our sport back home.

"Scotland are a very strong rugby nation and always have been. I just think that all the tier-twos are developing. That's why you are going to see us getting closer and then knock them off.

"We're a much better side than we were a year ago when we last faced the Scots.

"Our team culture is a lot better. Guys have really bought into what Coach Tolkin is doing here. The whole outlook is very different.

"We're all very good at sharing information with each other. No-one holds onto anything and that's how we grow.

"The spirit is great too. There's no sour grapes. If a guy doesn't get selected he knows he's still part of the team with a roll to play.

"We need to have that collaborative approach. We have zero superstars on this team. We just have 31 guys who really dig each other and will do anything for each other.

"It would be really big for the sport in our country if we were to win on Sunday but I don't know if I'd be completely surprised by an outcome like that. We're just going to do the best that we can. If we do that and defend well especially, the result will take care of itself."

O'Brien knows what the current Team USA troops are going through.

He was part of the American squad which lost by 40 points against New Zealand and almost 30 when they faced England at Twickenham during the 1991 tournament.

But while the results were sore, the 51-year-old retired fly-half still counts his World Cup appearances as his proudest moments in rugby.

Now he has urged the crop of 2015 to embrace their chance to shine on the biggest stage.

O'Brien - who also featured in the NFL as a kicker for the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles - said: "This is the World Cup, it's the biggest thing going for us. The guys know it's big. A few recognise that might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

"I still talk to them about my experience. It's a big moment in your life.

"But at the same time I don't want them to waste it. I tell them just to have fun and try to calm their minds. They need to forget that they're playing in front of 40,000 people.

"They just need to enjoy the moment."

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