The return of key flanker Christian Poidevin (pictured) for Saturday’s game in Utah is a huge boost for the LA Giltinis as they sharpen focus for the play-offs.
The Australian forward is back to face the Utah Warriors from 5pm (PT) after missing four games of the Major League Rugby season with a foot injury.
Neither club will be revealing all their tricks because their MLR standings cannot change before they meet on July 25 in the Western Conference play-off at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“Poido needs the game time heading into the play-offs so that’s a strong plus,” Giltinis coach Darren Coleman said.
“He’s a high workrate guy and a real all-rounder for us who links well, slows down opposition ball and tackles.
“I can’t say how the Warriors are going to treat this game but we want to play good rugby and win. There’ll be no excuses.”
This week’s unfortunate news that starting No.8 Adam Ashe is out for the rest of the season with a ruptured bicep is taxing the Giltinis’ backrow depth because Angus Cottrell is under suspension and Harry McNulty is committed to Ireland’s rugby sevens team for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Giltinis do get another timely lift with backrower Langilangi Haupeakui returning on the bench.
Injuries and niggles have forced a raft of team changes including the absence of both prop Marco Fepulea’i and lock Dave Dennis who collided heavily in the opening minutes of last weekend’s 31-17 win over the Austin Gilgronis.
Flyhalf Luke Carty (below) comes into the starting side for Matt Giteau after proudly returning from his first tour as a USA Eagle.
Carty made a positive start to his international career with Tests against England and Ireland, the country of his birth.
Ryan James is back on the wing for DTH van der Merwe (knee) after also returning from his first Eagles’ tour.
Outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper is nursing achilles soreness and has been replaced by versatile Glenn Bryce, who has played all his Giltinis’ rugby at fullback this season.
Utility Seru Vularika is deputising at fullback with Luke Burton being swung to inside centre.
To cover for the banged-up bodies, short-term call-ups have been greenlighted on the bench for No.8/flanker Cyrille Cama, 20 and halfback Dylan James, 22.
The duo played for the Giltinis’ Academy side, Loyals, last weekend against Santa Rosa and are the latest example of the club’s active promotion of local talent.
Cyrille Cama is from Rhinos Academy and Dylan James is from Santa Monica Dolphins.
LA GILTINIS (v Utah Warriors)
1 Sione Tuihalamaka, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 3 Charlie Abel, 4 Nathan Den Hoedt, 5 Luke White, 6 Sean O’Brien, 7 Christian Poidevin, 8 Pago Haini, 9 Cristian Rodriguez, 10 Luke Carty, 11 Adam Channel, 12 Luke Burton, 13 Glenn Bryce, 14 Ryan James, 15 Seru Vularika
Replacements: 16 Gelen Robinson, 17 Blake Rogers, 18 Ma’ake Muti, 19 Langilangi Haupeakui, 20 Ben Weischedel, 21 Dylan James, 22 Cyrille Cama, 23 Johnny Ryberg
IN: Christian Poidevin, Luke Carty, Ryan James, Glenn Bryce, Blake Rogers, Gelen Robinson, Ma’ake Muti, Langilangi Haupeakui, Dylan James, Cyrille Cama
OUT: Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Billy Meakes, JP Smith, Marco Fepulea’i, Dave Dennis, Adam Ashe, Harrison Goddard, DTH van der Merwe, Sean McNulty
The LA Giltinis face the Utah Warriors on the road at Zions Bank Stadium on Saturday from 5pm (PT).
The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network in USA and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.