The LA Giltinis have continued to secure homegrown American talent with the exciting signing of power-running winger John Ryberg for two years.
Ryberg, 28, is the best example of the instant pulling power of the fresh franchise in the expanded 13-team Major League Rugby competition.
He knocked back offers from other MLR clubs to head to Los Angeles because of the cast of coaches and players being assembled to start something new with a bang.
Ryberg is 235lb (107kg) of muscle and authority and is certain to become a fan favourite with his steamrolling runs.
He brings three valuable seasons of MLR experience from the now-defunct Glendale/Colorado Raptors.
“The first draw for me is being part of a new team and laying down the foundations of something big in LA,” Ryberg said.
“A major part of that is having a great coaching staff and the vision of our head coach (Darren Coleman) with the entertaining type of rugby we are to play.
“I’m going to become a better player in this environment and feel nothing but excitement that we can make a mark in MLR right from the start.”
Ryberg was a late starter to rugby, from American football, at 21 when at the University of Iowa but relishes his new sport and its physicality.
The Houston-born Ryberg plays a no-nonsense brand of rugby and defenders between him and the tryline always know what to expect.
“If there’s no way around a defender I’m going to go through them because that’s my job…finish the foundation set by the forwards,” Ryberg said matter-of-factly.
“Since I started in 2018, I’ve seen the fan base grow for MLR and the sport is only going to take off more and more with the big international names being attracted to the Giltinis and elsewhere.
“Twenty years from now, I want to see how big a success the Giltinis are and look back at where it all began with me playing a part.”
Joining former Raptors teammates like halfback Nick Boyer and prop Blake Rogers at the Giltinis brings in some ready-made and positive chemistry.
Having that understanding of travel demands and rival player profiles in MLR is a valuable head start for a squad being assembled from Australia, Scotland, Canada, the USA, Ireland and other nations yet to be named.
“The big Texan is a ball of muscle who knows how to find the line as the Raptors’ top tryscorer in 2019,” Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman said.
“John has good speed, he’s robust, he bumps off tacklers and is a genuine finisher who has just come on the radar of the USA Eagles.
“Our goal is to put a bit more finesse on his game, with passing and kicking, to just add to his dynamism.”
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.
For more info on the MLR season and how to support the LA Giltinis, head to www.giltinis.com