LA Giltinis Sign Top Sydney Rugby Hooker Mahe Vailanu

1 year ago

The LA Giltinis have signed rising star Mahe Vailanu, recently voted the best player in Australia’s toughest club rugby competition.

Vailanu, 23, is a low-slung ball of Tongan productivity as a hooker or back-up flanker with a winning pedigree for the club’s inaugural Major League Rugby season.

The upbeat announcement is also a glowing endorsement of head coach Darren Coleman’s style because Vailanu has signed with LA to play a fourth straight season under his Australian mentor.

Vailanu was recently awarded the Ken Catchpole Medal as the best player in Sydney’s Shute Shield competition in 2020 for his role in steering Gordon to a drought-breaking club premiership.

Vailanu was given a taste of Super Rugby, at 21, with two games off the bench for the Melbourne Rebels in 2018 but playing with the Giltinis will be his first full-time taste of professional rugby.

“I’m excited to be part of a professional environment full-time and be around the big names of a club like this for the first time,” Vailanu said.

“I’ve played under DC (Coleman) for three years now and I know how much he has developed me because the amount of time he puts in to improve players is unreal.

“We won Gordon’s first premiership in 22 years and we want to win some more.”

Vailanu’s impressive rise in a 236lb, five foot, 10 inch frame has put him on the radar of the Tongan national team and will continue to do so when he plays for the Giltinis.

There is also toughness to his make-up. He played more than half the game in Gordon’s grand final win with a broken hand and 26 minutes of it with an additional broken rib.

“I guess it was just how much we wanted to win and I stayed out there as long as I could,” said Vailanu, whose left hand is now healing after surgery.

“I know very little about LA but that’s part of the excitement of going to a new club with a good coach who knows how to bring a group of players together with hard work and direction.”

Vailanu’s aggressive, non-stop style is sure to be popular with the Giltinis’ eager rugby community in the countdown to MLR’s March start.

“Mahe has definitely outgrown club football and this move to professional rugby will further develop his skills and impact,” Coleman said.

“He’s always been a natural footballer but he’s now a high-quality hooker with a real future in the game.

“Everyone loves playing with him and his competitive manner is infectious which will be a big asset for the Giltinis.”

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.


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