Team Announcemet: Opening Day Buzz For Captain Dennis and Giltinis

7 months ago

Skipper Dave Dennis wants to keep building the “fortress” reputation of the Giltinis’ home stadium on Opening Day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

Beating the 2-0 New England Free Jacks is a sizeable challenge first up but Dennis is excited that the Coliseum will bring out the best in his side for a supportive home crowd.

The Giltinis went 8-1 at the Coliseum during their impressive run to the Championship in 2021 and Dennis wants to keep building on it.

“Our record at the Coliseum is something we pride ourselves on. We want it to be a hard, tough place for opposition teams to come and we want to keep building that ‘fortress’ feeling as this season progresses,” Dennis said.

The Giltinis have made just a single change to the starting line-up from the team that finished so strongly to beat the Toronto Arrows 31-16 in Canada.

Canadian-qualified prop Les Leuluaialii-Makin comes in for the injured Marco Fepulea’i, who will have a week off after back spasms mid-week.

From the bench, Charlie Abel will offer valuable scrum expertise as a replacement now he has returned from a calf injury.

Dennis said there was a buzz in the team approaching the Sunday afternoon opener (3pm PST) at the Coliseum after games on the road against the Houston SaberCats and Toronto Arrows.

Dave Dennis

“It has felt like a long lead-in to this day. We are back in the Cali sunshine and at a stadium we love to play at with fast, attacking rugby,” Dennis said.

“The Coliseum has such a long history, it’s a wonderful stadium and it has one of the best surfaces I’ve played on anywhere in the world.

“It all just adds to that walk down the long, iconic tunnel to the field. It definitely feels like home.”

Having a bye last weekend has meant a long preparation for Sunday’s game and enhancing the cohesion of the backline.

New 2022 recruits Will Chambers (wing), Jordan Trainor (fullback) and Ben LeSage (centre) are all pumped for this first game at the Coliseum in Giltinis colours.

Dennis warned that stepping up with the right physicality was essential to beat a Free Jacks side that is responding to new South African coach Scott Mathie.

Dave Dennis Lineout

“The Free Jacks are 2-0 and have won both those games on the road. I see them as a leading team and one of the biggest improvers so we know how prepared we have to be,” Dennis said.

The Free Jacks will be willing opponents.

Canadian lock and captain Josh Larsen believes the extra physicality driven by Mathie has given the Free Jacks a fresh edge.LA GILTINIS (v New England Free Jacks)

1 Djustice Sears-Duru, 2 Andrew Tuala, 3 Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 4 Dave Dennis (capt), 5 Nathan Den Hoedt, 6 Angus Cottrell, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 8 Corey Thomas, 9 Harrison Goddard, 10, Luke Burton, 11 John Ryberg, 12 Billy Meakes, 13 Ben LeSage, 14 Will Chambers, 15 Jordan Trainor

Replacements: 16 Sean McNulty, 17 Luke White, 18 Charlie Abel, 19 Adam Ashe, 20 Christian Poidevin, 21 Tas Smith, 22 Cristian Rodriguez, 23 Ryan James

IN: Charlie Abel

OUT: Marco Fepulea’i

The Giltinis face the New England Free Jacks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday at 3pm (PST). The match will be broadcast live on Bally Sports SoCal and Bally Sports West in Los Angeles.

The match can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.

Be part of the fun and excitement of Opening Day at the Coliseum.

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