Warriors hooker Joe Taufete’e will win his 20th cap for USA Eagles as he continues his quest for an international rugby record against Chile in Santiago on Saturday.
Taufete’e goes into the opening match of USA’s defence of the Americas Rugby Championship needing one try to equal and two to set the record for most tries scored by a front row forward in internationals.
Former Ireland hooker Keith Wood holds the record with 15 tries but they were scored during a 63-Test career between 1994 and 2003.
Taufete’e’s international debut came against South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup and he scored his first international try against Chile at Fort Lauderdale in his third Test appearance in 2016.
Taufete’e scored his 14th international try in his most recent international against Ireland in Dublin in November. But he was concussed in that match and his return to action with Warriors was delayed for a month.
Taufete’e is one of seven England-based players in USA’s starting line-up as they start a five match programme in their attempt to be crowned Americas champions for the third consecutive season.
“Our first challenge of the ARC will not be easy, playing the Chilean side in their home territory,” said USA Head Coach Gary Gold, a former Warriors Director of Rugby.
“Chile play a very passionate and physical game and given this is the start of a long tournament, we must play to our strengths to establish the momentum we need to carry us through the competition.
“Of course, we want to win our third ARC title, but that will be even more difficult as all teams have come back with a renewed physicality. This is the start of our Rugby World Cup year and we must ensure our guys are prepared to manage the intensity in each game for the full 80 minutes.”