The LA Giltinis have signed Andrew Tuala from Australia to add a big, bullocking ball-runner and scrummager to their front-row stocks.
Today’s announcement is a double-pronged win for the Giltinis because the strongly-framed Tuala (above) is equally at home at hooker or loosehead prop.
The 278lb (125kg), 5’11” (1.81m) forward comes straight to the Giltinis from Super Rugby after playing twice for the NSW Waratahs in June.
His 30m burst, sidestep and off-load against the Highlanders in June was Tuala at his best and it’s exactly the impact the Giltinis want from him away from scrums.
At 30, Tuala is a seasoned campaigner with nine Super Rugby games behind him as well as four seasons in Australia’s second-tier National Rugby Championship.
“I’m really looking forward to this journey with the Giltinis. I love the flow to the rugby they play,” Tuala said from Sydney.
“The Giltinis get the big boys involved a lot so I think it’s going to be a good fit because I like trucking the ball up hard.”
The New Zealand-born Tuala said the phone call from Giltinis head coach Stephen Hoiles arrived at the right time when he was weighing up his future for 2022.
Off the field, Tuala works as a career with troubled youth.
“Sometimes young people just need their confidence built up and someone offering a bit of guidance. For me, helping to change the lives of young people is such a positive so, for sure, I’d like to help out through the Giltinis in LA,” Tuala said.
“I’m a hooker who can cover loosehead prop so hopefully that versatility is a help to my new club.
For Hoiles, adding quality to the team’s front-row depth has been a priority during the off-season with JP Smith and Blake Rogers moving on.
“We used a number of players at prop and hooker in 2021. It’s an important area you need to have covered,” Hoiles said.
“Andrew is a strong ball-carrier, experienced and versatile which are all plusses for the Giltinis.”
The Giltinis kick-off their Championship defence against the Houston Sabercats in Houston on February 5 with Opening Day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum set for Sunday, February 27 against the New England Free Jacks.