The LA Giltinis have announced the signing of young playmaker Jeffrey Peleseuma as another positive move towards establishing the club as a development hub for top American prospects.
Snaring the San Francisco-born youngster for two years creates the opportunity to polish his natural flair with elite coaching in a professional program for the first time.
Peleseuma, who turned 20 on November 26, was identified when coached by new Giltinis skills coach Orene Ai’i at the Golden Gate Rugby Club in San Francisco last season.
Peleseuma was a five-eighth/backline utility with the 2019 Junior All-Americans (USA Under-20s) after taking to the game at school age in an all-Samoan side through the Pacific Islander Youth Alliance in his home city.
“Being signed by the Giltinis is a dream because I’ve always wanted to play professionally and reach my potential,” Peleseuma said.
“Los Angeles already has a big rugby community so to be part of something new to attract more fans to a sport that is only going to get bigger is really exciting.
“I was always the smallest on teams but seeing the career that Orene made for himself just motivates me because I always say size doesn’t matter but the size of the heart does.”
Ai’i played at just 5 foot 7 inches (1.70m) and 179lb (81kg) yet carved out a storied career for the Blues in Super Rugby, Auckland, the trophy-hungry New Zealand Sevens team and clubs in France and Japan.
Peleseuma is an inch taller and throws his 187lb (85kg) frame into tackling and his attacking work without fear.
There is a clear connection with Ai’i which will benefit his development.
“I was told never to lose the islander flair, the dummies and sidestep, so that’s part of my game but I’m always very coachable to improve,” Peleseuma said.
“I can’t wait to get started in LA because there’s already a cool connection between the international players and coaches from Zoom calls and group messages.”
Ai’i liked the skillset he saw when coaching Peleseuma at the Golden Gate club last season and believes he perfectly suits the Giltinis’ mission to recruit and develop Californian talent.
“Jeff puts his body on the line, his rugby IQ is quite high and he just has a really good attitude from all I saw at Golden Gate,” Ai’i said.
“Having Jeff around the coaches and players being assembled by the Giltinis is going to bring on his development so much more.”
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.