The LA Giltinis are maximising the versatility of forwards Luke White, Nathan Den Hoedt and Andrew Tuala for Saturday’s clash against the Seattle Seawolves.
The loss to injury of Angus Cottrell (knee), Adam Ashe (neck) and Corey Thomas (head knock) has forced some shrewd reshaping of the pack for this important Major League Rugby contest.
The physical White will shift from prop to lock while industrious lock Den Hoedt and his 1.99m frame will make a rare start in the backrow.
Tuala, a strong contributor at hooker earlier this season, has been selected as a back-up prop for this road game from 3pm (PST) at Starfire Stadium, outside Seattle.
John Ryberg has beaten a hamstring issue. He is back on the wing, with his size and power running, after a two-game lay-off.
“This versatility is great for us and you look for it when you are putting together a squad for the season,” head coach Steve Hoiles said.
“Luke came to us with lock as his preferred position but he has always stepped up at prop when needed. Nathan gets through a lot of work every week as well.
“Andrew was signed as a hooker-prop. The beauty of that is we are at Round Eight where that adaptability will really help the team.”
The Western Conference in MLR is so tightly bunched that a victory by the 3-3 Giltinis can make a huge difference against the 4-3 Seawolves.
New signing Joe Taufete’e impressed in his first start at hooker for the Giltinis last weekend in the 26-13 victory over the San Diego Legion. The USA Eagle's 13 ball carries for 56m against the Legion came on top of a pinpoint long lineout throw to centre Billy Meakes in the opening two minutes and strong scrummaging.
It was the sort of attention to detail that the Giltinis will need to harness as a team to beat the in-form Seawolves.
“We know Seattle will be tough. You have to wipe last year (4-12) as a pointer because a new coach and new players have come in to turn their fortunes,” Hoiles said.
“Their No.8 and captain Riekert Hattingh carried for 200m in their last win over Dallas so they have plenty of running to contain.”
LA GILTINIS (v Seattle Seawolves)
1 Djustice Sears-Duru, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 3 Marco Fepulea’i, 4 Dave Dennis (capt), 5 Luke White, 6 Nathan Den Hoedt, 7 Christian Poidevin, 8 Hanco Germishuys, 9 Harrison Goddard, 10 Orene Ai’i, 11 Will Chambers, 12 Luke Burton, 13 Billy Meakes, 14 John Ryberg, 15 Jordan Trainor
Replacements: 16 Lindsey Stevens, 17 Andrew Tuala, 18 Charlie Abel, 19 Zach Bonte, 20 Cyrille Cama, 21 Tas Smith, 22 Cristian Rodriguez, 23 Ryan James
IN: Andrew Tuala, John Ryberg,
OUT: Corey Thomas, Angus Cottrell
The Giltinis face the Seattle Seawolves at Starfire Stadium, outside Seattle, at 3pm (PST) on Saturday. 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.