The LA Giltinis have bolstered their depth at scrumhalf by signing USA Under-20s selection Tas Smith on a one-year deal.
Smith’s thrill at securing his first professional contract is magnified by finally getting the chance to play after the frustrating false starts of 2020-21.
Smith, 20, will bring a sharp pass, energy and a huge appetite to learn beside fellow scrumhalves Harrison Goddard and Cristian Rodriguez.
Smith was selected for the USA Under-20s in May, 2020 and for an Australian Under-20s camp early in 2021.
“The shame was the chance with the USA and the Under-20s Americas Rugby Championship were both cancelled because of COVID-19 and the Aussie Under-20s camp was called off as well,” Smith said.
His club season for Sydney University in Australia in 2021 was shutdown mid-season so he is eager to train consistently and play in Los Angeles.
“To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of playing in the US until I was contacted about the Under-20s opportunity,” Smith said.
“I watched the Giltinis’ first season on livestream back in Australia because the team had a few Aussie legends involved and it was just good attacking rugby.
“It’s so random but exciting to now be involved in Los Angeles.”
Smith was born in New York in 2001, when his parents were working in advertising, before moving to Australia as a baby. He was captain of Cranbrook in Sydney’s elite schools’ competition in 2019 and joined leading club side Sydney University from there.
Smith has set himself clear goals to improve his skills and game awareness in the strong learning environment at the Giltinis.
“I definitely want to get my running game and physicality going more so this is a great opportunity with the Giltinis,” Smith added.
Head coach Stephen Hoiles believes the extra depth at scrumhalf is a big plus for the Giltinis.
“Tas has a really crisp pass and all the right attributes. There are parts of his game to work on and that’s exactly what he’ll get being around (assistant coaches) Orene Ai’i and Adam Ashley-Cooper,” Hoiles said.
The Giltinis open their Championship defence against the Houston Sabercats in Houston on February 5, with Opening Day in LA on Sunday, February 27.