The signing of emerging prospect Corey Thomas shows how strongly the LA Giltinis are invested in Major League Rugby’s mission to improve American and Canadian rugby.
The Giltinis are delighted to announce Thomas, 26, as the latest addition to their lock-backrow stocks because he brings both experience and ambition to the club.
Although playing in Australia and Japan, Thomas is Canadian qualified through his to father Phillip being born in Edmonton, Canada.
His heritage means he will not only be driving hard for wins at MLR’s new club but also auditioning under the gaze of the Canadian national team selectors.
Thomas played for both Perth Spirit (2014) and the championship-winning Brisbane City (2015) in Australia’s second-tier National Rugby Championship before a four-and-a-half year adventure in professional rugby in Japan.
He made his Super Rugby debut for Japan’s Sunwolves in February only to have further game time cut off when the season was cancelled just weeks later because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m beyond excited to play for the Giltinis and part of that is the collaboration already,” Thomas said.
“A lot of the players are still all over the world yet our head coach (Darren Coleman) has put in a lot of effort on Zoom calls to get us connected as a playing group.
“I’ve put on 11lb since the Sunwolves finished and feel bigger, stronger and faster than I ever have. It’s just exciting to think of running into someone again after all the time-off.”
The 258lb Thomas said the chance to develop under quality coaches and further his ambitions were drawcards at the progressive Los Angeles club.
He’ll get to develop beside star forward signings Dave Dennis (Australia) and Adam Ashe (Scotland), both Test-toughened international forwards, while being guided by assistant coach Stephen Hoiles, a former Wallaby backrower.
“I’ve some real big goals in rugby and when you are around quality players and coaches you have to be a sponge to learn everything you can,” Thomas said.
“It’s going to be good playing with and helping the team’s American and Canadian players because there’ll always be a trigger there to learn something yourself.
“The teams which have the best fans have that directly rub off on the enjoyment felt by the players and I’m really looking forward to the enthusiasm of our American fans.”
Hoiles believes strongly in the charter of the Giltinis to develop American and Canadian players as part of the drive for success.
“Growing the game of rugby in North America will always be one of the club’s key aims,” Hoiles said.
“Corey has had a taste of professional rugby and wants more so he comes to us with the drive to play at the highest level.
“He’s a hybrid lock-blindside flanker with good lineout skills who can play for us as a local because of his Canadian heritage.”
The Giltinis will kick off their MLR campaign on the weekend of March 20, 2021, with tickets being available by the end of this year.