Major League Rugby Weekly – 02/12/2020 – 2021 Squad Builds
Free Jacks Add Young Otago Fly Half Harrison Boyle
The New England Free Jacks have announced the signing of Otago Fly Half and Boston born Harrison Boyle, for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 20 year old has a bright future ahead of him and has already experienced Mitre 10 Cup rugby, in New Zealand, with Otago this season. Boyle is versatile and can play Fly Half and Full Back, as well as featuring on the Wing for Otago. He will push some of the existing talent for their places in 2021. Incumbent Fly Half Tadhg Leader is a seriously important player for New England, so fans will be pleased to hear, that they have signed a serious talent in his position. Boyle will come in as cover and competition, but he is the real deal and will be pushing for a starting spot. At 6 foot 4, he offers something a bit different from the likes of Leader and Full Back Beaudein Waaka. He has a physical presence, that allows him to play late to the line and is safe under the high ball.
Austin Gilgronis Add USA Eagles Prop Paddy Ryan
The Austin Gilgronis have signed USA Eagles Tighthead Prop Paddy Ryan, for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. Ryan is well known as one of the most destructive scrummagers in Major League Rugby. This wont be his first time in Austin, as he was a part of the original Major League Rugby group, with the Austin Elite. He then went on to play two seasons with Rugby United New York (RUNY), where he continued to add to his scrummaging reputation and helped the roosters to a Semi Final Appearance, in 2009.
Paddy Ryan has played all over the world and developed a skillset that earned him four caps for the USA Eagles. He has played for Viadana (Italy), London Welsh (English Championship) and the Newcastle Falcons (English Premiership).It was his performances for the Falcons that really caught the eye. He managed seven Premiership appearances, during that time and did not look out of place, at that extremely high level of rugby. The Irish/American then embarked on his Major League Rugby career and has taken the league by storm. Most recently, Ryan has been playing for the Ohio Aviators, in the Bermuda World Tens Series. He now joins an impressive group of Props, at the Gilgronis, including Mason Pederson, Jamie MacKintosh, and LaRome White. Ryan will hope that strong performances, for the Gilgronis, will lead to further Eagles appearances.
Djustice Sears-Duru Re-Signs With The Seattle Seawolves
The Seattle Seawolves have confirmed that Loosehead Prop Djustice Sears-Duru, will be returning for his third season with the franchise. The Canadian International has over 50 caps for his country and heaps of experience. The 26 year old still has plenty of development left, which is a scary thought for someone with so much experience. He has played all over the world and played in all five of the Seawolves 2020 fixtures, following his run with Canada at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He has developed his game around the world, before returning to North America and joining the Seawolves in 2019. Sears-Duru spent time with Leicester Tigers (English Premiership), North Otago side Oamaru (New Zealand Club Rugby), Glasgow Warriors (Scottish PRO 14),and Ealing Trailfinders (English Championship). Sears-Duru has already featured at two World Cups and has won the MLR Shield, with the Seawolves, but there is no doubt he will be on the hunt for more silverware and more International caps.
2 Year Contract Extension For Billy Stewart At The Gold
New Orleans Gold have confirmed that Lock/Back Row Billy Stewart, has committed his long term future to the club and signed a two year contract extension. The 26 year old will now stay at the Gold Mine, through to the 2023 Major League Rugby season. Billy Stewart has certainly proven to be a success, in the last couple of seasons. He played in 12 games, during the 2019 Major League Rugby season and started 6 of them. His form continued in 2020, where he played in all five of New Orleans games, as they played some superb rugby. Stewart seems to be cemented as a key member of their first team squad and will continue his development, with this long term contract.
Giltinis Continue Their Roster Build
The LA Giltinis have continued to announce their roster, for their inaugural season of Major League Rugby. Their latest recruits come from a variety of places and play in a variety of positions. We will run through each new player below.
Corey Thomas – Lock/Back Row
The powerful running player is Canadian Qualified and harbours big ambitions for this rugby career. Thomas came through the Australian Rugby system and shone for both the Perth Spirit and Brisbane City, in the National Rugby Championship. A move to Japan followed and Thomas has since played for both the Canon Eagles and the Kamaishi Seawaves. His career had been progressing superbly well, with a call up to the Japanese Super Rugby Side, the Sunwolves, this year. Unfortunately, the season was cut short, but it has opened the door for a move to Major League Rugby. Corey Thomas is primarily a Back Rower, but has played at Lock during his time in Japan. At 6 Foot 4, he has the ability to switch between both and will be another aerial threat at lineout time. Star signing Dave Dennis has played at the highest level in the Back Five for many years now and will be the perfect mentor for the similarly built Thomas. This signing has the ability to make an initial impact, but the future pay off could be even more substantial for the Giltinis and potentially Rugby Canada.
Ruan Smith – Tighthead Prop
The 30 year old Tighthead Prop has enjoyed a successful career in Australia, since making his Super Rugby debut in 2012. The South African born prop grew up, along with his brother, in his native land, before making the move to Australia. Smith has played for the Western Force, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels and most recently the Queensland Reds. He brings huge experience and will be an anchor at scrum time. Another fantastic signing for the Giltinis and a consistent top level player.
JP Smith – Loosehead Prop
Jean-Pierre came to Super Rugby a little later than his brother, debuting in 2014, but has really impressed over the last six seasons. He played for the ACT Brumbies, before heading back to South Africa, to play for the Stormers. A return to Australia followed and a link back up with his brother, at the Queensland Reds. The two seem to play even better in tandem, with Ruan on the Tighthead side and JP on the Loosehead. A mobile prop, with a strong scrummaging technique, JP Smith should be an instant success in the MLR. Both brothers have signed two year deals with their new side and are fully committed to Major League Rugby.
Nathan Den Hoedt – Lock
The 23 year old Australian Lock, joins at the perfect time in his career. Den Hoedt has enjoyed four years of top level club rugby, with Sunnybank and then Randwick. He also featured for the Emerging NSW Waratahs side, in the National Rugby Championship (NRC). He is looking to take the next step in his career and in his development as a player. After spending last season as Captain of Ranwick, Den Hoedt comes in with those leadership skills and the confidence to get involved early. He is still growing into his frame, but already has a powerful ball carrying game and is an accomplished lineout caller. He seems to have all the skills to be a future leader of this side and will learn off the likes of Dave Dennis and former Randwick player and now Giltinis Assistant Coach Stephen Hoiles.
Jeff Peleseuma – Fly Half/Utility Back
This is the kind of signing we love. The Giltinis have identified a local talent and will now look to develop his skills, within a professional environment. It shows local players, that there is a pathway to playing professional rugby for their home state. It also shows that the talent already exists, within that region and that is just needs to be given a chance. Peleseuma has only just turned 20, but has all the skills to be a quality Back. He currently plays Fly Half or across the backline and was spotted by Giltinis Skills Coach Orene Ai’i, while playing for San Francisco Golden Gate. The 2019 Junior All-American player has some real flair and is another sign of the style that LA want to play. Peleseuma has signed a two year deal, giving him plenty of time to develop.
Mika Kruse – Winger
The LA Giltinis have confirmed the signing of former Glendale/Colorado Raptors Winger Mika Kruse, on a two year deal. Kruse has already spent three seasons, in Major League Rugby, at just 22 years old and has grown with the League each year. He is the second Wing signing for the Giltinis, so far, after Canadian International DTH Van Der Merwe joined. Kruse has a high ceiling, when it comes to development and has all the raw attributes to be a world beater. He couldn’t have a better mentor in DTH Van Der Merwe, who has scored tries at the highest level, for over a decade. The Giltinis look like they are ready to play a fast paced and powerful brand of rugby; Mika Kruse certainly fits in to that style.
Mika Kruse was born and raised in California and is another sign of the Giltinis commitment to local talent. Head Coach Darren Coleman has stated that Kruse was their first pick, in the Colorado Raptors dispersal draft, that saw their players get picked up by the Giltinis and the Dallas Jackals. He is obviously the type of player that the Giltinis want involved and certainly fits in with their other signings so far. He has already featured for the USA Eagles and at just 19, he played in a non-cap fixture versus the Maori All Blacks, in Chicago. It will be very interesting to see how Kruse develops with the Giltinis and how far he can go with the Eagles.