Speedster Perry Baker is one of the greatest players to have ever donned the red, white and blue of the USA on the rugby sevens field – and he’s far from done.
Playing on the treasured turf at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday evening, Baker stole the show with a second half double in a crucial pool clash against reigning World Series champions Australia.
It was one of Baker’s best performances on the World Series circuit for quite some time, as he led the led the Eagles to a stunning 24-5 upset win.
The upset also secured the Eagles’ place in the men’s quarter-finals, while Australia were left to rue what could’ve been after placing third in the pool.
Baker has been around for a number of years, so it wasn’t exactly a coming of age performance for the sevens veteran – but it was potentially the dawn of a new era for the American.
The electrifying speedster, who is former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, will hold the key for the USA in Singapore next weekend – should he play.
Baker didn’t play in the Eagles’ fifth place semi-final against South Africa on Sunday, and later told RugbyPass that he was “taking care of the old man body.”
While the 36-year-old is battling through a shoulder injury, Baker insists he’ll be ready to play in Singapore next weekend.
“Just taking care of the old man body. Just a little bit banged up so just trying to get everything situated for next week,” Baker told RugbyPass.
“Just been having some shoulder issues and things like that so I’m just trying to get inflammation to calm down so I can be ready for next week.
“I’ll be back next week. It’s been there, just a neck issue.”
This season hasn’t quite gone to plan for the United States.
Coach Mike Friday and his team have only medalled twice this season, and they were both third-place finishes.
Coming into rugby seven’s biggest World Series event this weekend, the Eagles would’ve been eager to turn their fortunes around at Hong Kong Stadium.
But again, their season hasn’t quite gone to plan.
In their opening match on Friday, the USA were beaten 7-nil in a hard-fought contest with surprise package Spain.
After bouncing back with a big win over Japan, Baker and the Eagles put on a show against Australia to secure a quarter-finals berth.
But that’s as good as it got.
Great Britain beat the Eagles by 11-points in their quarter-final on Sunday, and the USA lost again shortly after to South Africa.
“It’s very disappointing. We wanted a ticket to the dance and we got it, and we came up short in the quarterfinals,” he added.
“It’s all in our control. We wanted to put on a performance that we were proud of.
“I can’t criticize the effort that the boys made, it’s just certain things didn’t quite go our way, and how can we just get back on track?
“That was a big game right there in the quarterfinals… we just came up short.
“It’s about being consistent and winning those moments when we have the momentum going our way.”
Source: Rugby Pass