USA Eagles flyhalf Luke Carty will make his long-awaited return from injury for the LA Giltinis against the Dallas Jackals in Texas on Saturday.
The 24-year-old playmaker (above) has been named on the bench for the first time this season for the 5pm (PST) clash at Arlington’s Choctaw Stadium.
Carty’s diligence behind the scenes has helped minimise his lay-off since he was grounded four months ago by a pectoral muscle injury during the pre-season.
All he learnt last year by playing six Tests for the Eagles and winning a Major League Rugby championship can have a huge impact on the business end of this season.
“Luke has done really well to get back,” said Head Coach Stephen Hoiles.
“He’s been in full contact training for a few weeks now and it’s time to get him some minutes.
“He’ll be rusty but there’s a good chance to have an impact on the season with three games until the play-offs.”
Versatile Harrison Goddard will start the game at flyhalf but the option exists to switch him to halfback during the second half to make room for Carty.
The Irish-born Carty’s kicking boot will be a major asset as well as his passing game.
A toe issue has grounded fullback Jordan Trainor who will benefit from the breather after racking up big playing minutes through the opening 15 rounds.
In positional switches, Tom Mitchell will shift from wing to fullback to cover Trainor’s absence. Powerful John Ryberg (below) comes in on the wing to start.
Luke Burton comes into the centres to partner Billy Meakes which means Canadian centre Ben LeSage making his impact from the bench on Saturday
In the pack, the 9-4 Giltinis have made several changes to the starting line-up to face the Jackals, who are limping with a 0-14 record in their maiden season.
Prop Djustice Sears-Duru is in at prop and hard-running former Eagle Langilangi Haupeakui will start at No.8 for the first time in 2022.
On the bench, the Giltinis will trial the dynamic Cyrille Cama (below) as back-up hooker after a lengthy education at training in transitioning from the backrow.
“Developing Cyrille as a hooker has been a project. He’s made some very good contributions off the bench this season and we want that to continue,” Hoiles said
“We are wary of the Jackals. They run the ball form everywhere and can cut you up. They play with a nothing-to-lose attitude.
“They have also used over 50 players this season so they are a really hard team to analyse.
“For us, everyone is disappointed with the way we played against San Diego last weekend. Ill discipline really hurt us so that’s an area we have to improve for Saturday.”
In a further developments on Friday morning, Head Coach Steve Hoiles will be suspended for this upcoming match in Dallas, following a league wide warning from the MLR on tech zone communication protocols put in place a fortnight ago.
The Club did not appeal this decision.
LA Giltinis Team (v Dallas Jackals)
1 Djustice Sears-Duru, 2 Lindsey Stevens, 3 Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 4 Nathan Den Hoedt, 5 Luke White, 6 Corey Thomas, 7 Christian Poidevin, 8 Langilangi Haupeakui, 9 Tas Smith, 10 Harrison Goddard, 11 Will Chambers, 12 Luke Burton, 13 Billy Meakes, 14 Johnny Ryberg, 15 Tom Mitchell
Replacements: 16 Cyrille Cama, 17 Charlie Abel, 18 Marco Fepulea’i, 19 Sam Peri, 20 Zach Bonte, 21 Cristian Rodriguez, 22 Ben LeSage, 23 Luke Carty
IN: Sam Peri, Luke Carty
OUT: Andrew Tuala, Jordan Trainor
Joe Taufete’e - Hooker (ankle)
Dave Dennis – Lock (fitness test)
Angus Cottrell – Backrower (knee)
Matt Giteau – Flyhalf (calf)
Adam Ashe – Backrower (neck)
DTH van der Merwe – Winger (knee)
Brooklyn Hardaker – Winger (knee)
Jordan Trainor – Fullback (toe)
Ryan James – Winger (hamstring)
(v San Diego Legion)
Ball carries: Billy Meakes 13, Jordan Trainor 10
Running Metres Gained: Billy Meakes 146, Jordan Trainor 69, Ben LeSage 58
Offloads: Billy Meakes 3
Tackles: Christian Poidevin 13, Corey Thomas 12, Zach Bonte 11, Harrison Goddard 11, Tas Smith 10
Ruck and Maul Arrivals: Christian Poidevin 30, Corey Thomas 17, Nathan Den Hoedt 16, Zach Bonte 15, Luke White 13
Season Try-scoring: Hanco Germishuys 7, Will Chambers 3, Andrew Tuala 3, Ben LeSage 3, John Ryberg 3
The Giltinis face the Dallas Jackals at 5pm (PST) on Saturday at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. 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.