The LA Giltinis have added the dynamic Samoan X-factor of winger Vise Leasi to lift their try-scoring capabilities for the Major League Rugby season.
Leasi, 23, joins the club in 2021 of the back of his explosive potential and the finishing speed he packs into a 243lb (110kg) frame.
Today’s announcement will excite southern Californian rugby fans who remember Leasi’s try-scoring for Belmont Shore Rugby Club in 2018-19 when he first arrived in the USA.
Leasi has a strong rugby pedigree. He played in the Samoan side that won the second-tier World Rugby Under-20s Trophy in Zimbabwe in 2016 after playing with Samoa’s bronze medal-winning Youth Commonwealth Games team in rugby sevens in 2015.
Leasi was raised from the age of eight in Manu Samoa but was born in the tiny village of Ili’ili in American Samoa so he holds an American Samoan passport plus a US visa and residency card.
“I’m more than excited. Playing rugby professionally is something I’ve really wanted to do,” Leasi said.
“I was a track and field guy and seen as kind of quick so I started playing sevens back in Samoa.
“I was a skinny, skinny 200lb back in my days with the Samoan Under-20s so I’ve really worked hard on building my size and strength to go through the defence.
“Now I get the chance to really improve my standard with some great coaching at the Giltinis.”
The 6’2” (1.88m) Leasi’s pedigree is more based in rugby sevens which makes him an exciting project with all the improvement still in him to broaden his skills and impact.
He played in the Belmont Shore squad which visited New York for the 2018 National Club Sevens Championships when Giltinis prop Mafi Seanoa was a close teammate.
“Having played in Los Angeles, I know how many fans are already into their rugby so support for the Giltinis is going to be big,” Leasi said.
“I have family and friends in LA who want to get to games and it really will mean a lot to play for the city and my family.
“I want to keep showing my rugby skills and go as far as I can.”
Leasi is eligible for USA Eagles recognition in the years ahead because his Under-20s and sevens experiences in Samoa did not cross the threshold tying him to selection for that country.
He has been working in construction while playing an abbreviated 2020 season for the Tacoma Nomads in Washington.
“Vise is an exciting prospect of Samoan power and speed,” said Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman.
“In the footage I’ve seen, he looks fast and has footwork. All those traits combined are a dangerous combination.
“He has a lot to learn but from my conversations with him he is saying all the right things about having the work ethic to develop.”
The Giltinis will kick off their debut MLR campaign at home against the Dallas Jackals on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 5.30pm (PT). Stay tuned for the on-sale date for tickets and further details.