New Plymouth - The United States team will attend a church service in New Plymouth on Sunday to honour the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, just hours before its opening match in the Rugby World Cup.
The Eagles will go to St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church for the 10:00 service, one of the first in the world to honour the 10th anniversary of the attacks in New York and Washington.
According to the World Cup website, David Huebner, the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, will speak in the in the non-denominational service which is expected to attract 800 people.
The US Embassy asked the Rev. Kim Francis if he could organise a memorial service, and it will go ahead with a performance from the Pacific Band of the US Marine Corps, New Plymouth firefighters escorting US and New Zealand flags into the church, and a minute's silence.
"We just feel honored," Francis said on the website. "The whole church is rising to the occasion."
The Eagles kick off against Ireland at Stadium Taranaki eight hours later.
US coach Eddie O'Sullivan hoped the team will be able to refocus on the match.
"Motivation isn't going to be an issue for these lads, they're always easy to fire up," O'Sullivan said on the website. "It's going to be emotional, I think.
"For me, part of my job is to contain the emotion. If they get too emotional, they'll make mistakes, and if they make mistakes they'll pay a big price."
Francis believed the service will offer a little extra inspiration for the US team.
But, "in the end, they have to win on their own. They can't rely on God," he said, "'In God we trust' only goes so far."