The LA Giltinis continue to bolster their squad for its Major League Rugby debut, and new lock signing Luke White will play a major role in its success.
The high praise comes on the day that the influential Australia-born, USA-qualified forward can be revealed as an upbeat signing for the next two years.
Playing in every iteration of professional rugby in the USA since 2015 puts White in the ideal position to appraise the strength of the playing and coaching roster being put together by the new club for Los Angeles.
White featured in the Pacific Rugby Premiership (2015-16) with Glendale and the one-off PRO Rugby competition with the Denver Stampede (2016) before being at the core of the Glendale/Colorado Raptors for three seasons in MLR (2018-20).
One of MLR’s premier performers will add powerful ball-carries, a big work ethic, valuable leadership and experience for the March kick-off to the Giltinis’ inaugural season.
“I think the Giltinis can make an incredible impression on the league,” White said.
“It’s the best squad of rugby players I’ve been a part of and that’s from the mix of skill and talent from local and overseas players.
“On top of that, the level of professionalism from (head coach) Darren Coleman at the outset and a top group of coaches won me over easily and convincingly.
“Starting a team in Los Angeles adds another level of excitement because who wouldn’t think of jumping on board in a city with such a sports and entertainment history.
“I know there is a strong club rugby scene in California and good bases of fans to connect with.”
White’s rugby education began in Sydney as an Eastwood junior, at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview and in two club seasons with Manly Marlins (2010-11).
White, 29, played both lock and prop for the Raptors in 2018 to help drive the club to their highest MLR finish as runners-up.
In 2019, no player in MLR made more ball carries (180) in the regular season and no forward pounded out more ground (1159m) when he showed his big assets.
It’s as a 254lb (115kg), 6’3” (1.91m) lock that he will suit up for the Giltinis.
The former Raptors captain will inject valuable leadership into the Giltinis’ maiden voyage in a competition he says is getting “stronger and stronger.”
“I’d say the standard of game play has improved 60 per cent from the PRP in 2015 to today. All facets are superior and that includes some of the biggest gains in defence,” White said.
“That’s one reason it’s such a huge advantage to have a coaching staff of high calibre.
“It’s been a virtual start-up for a professional team and getting to know new teammates on Zoom because of the pandemic.
“That’s a very interesting start for any team but how well Darren navigated the shutdown in Australia was a big factor in his Gordon club team winning a premiership for the first time in 22 years.”
Off the field, White has been an assistant coach at Harvard for two seasons and they are skills he wants to keep working on for the future.
“Luke gets through some really strong ball-carries and he’s got the respect of players across MLR,” Giltinis assistant coach Stephen Hoiles said.
“He’s already put in hard work to change his body shape to be the lock we want and he’s eager to be taught some of the finer tasks.
“Good leaders are important and we expect him to take the lead in the USA with some of the important off-field tasks of the next few months.”
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.