A string of late changes forced by injury have created exciting chances for Belmont Shore duo Adam Channel and Ben Weischedel to make their debuts for the LA Giltinis.
The American pair from the prominent Los Angeles’ club side from Long Beach have both been training and playing for the Giltinis’ Academy to prepare for just this opportunity.
Channel scored a try and was influential in several more when the Academy beat the Dallas Reds 62-24 last weekend.
Channel comes straight into the starting side as a winger to replace the injured DTH van der Merwe for Sunday’s clash against the San Diego Legion from 3pm (PT) at Torero Stadium.
Backrower Weischedel is a back-up forward for the bench with Corey Thomas succumbing to the collarbone injury that forced him off a week ago against the Houston SaberCats.
Several stars had been given until match eve medical checks to prove their fitness for Major League Rugby’s “California Derby.”
“We’ve lost a few guys with injuries but that creates chances to step up for players who have been training for just this moment,” head coach Darren Coleman said.
“One thing that is very important to us at the Giltinis is that development pathway for local players. Adam and Ben get a shot at MLR for that reason and (reserve prop) Sione Tuihalamaka is an athletic, raw power player who is back in the picture after injury.”
Luke Carty, recently named in the USA Eagles training squad for the first time, will deputise for Matt Giteau as starting flyhalf as he did earlier in the season.
Prop JP Smith and flanker Simon Poidevin are out which means Blake Rogers coming into the front-row and centre Billy Meakes again showing his versatility at flanker.
Meakes’ strong-running and aggressive work over the ball are perfectly suited for a physical “California Derby.”
Utility Luke Burton stays in his best position of inside centre after a strong game against the SaberCats when his pressing line speed in defence earned a big tick.
LA GILTINIS (v San Diego Legion)
1 Blake Rogers, 2 Sean McNulty, 3 Charlie Abel, 4 Dave Dennis (c), 5 Nathan Den Hoedt, 6 Angus Cottrell, 7 Billy Meakes, 8 Adam Ashe, 9 Harrison Goddard, 10 Luke Carty, 11 Adam Channel, 12 Luke Burton, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 John Ryberg, 15 Glenn Bryce
Replacements: 16 Gelen Robinson, 17 Marco Fepulea’i, 18 Sione Tuihalamaka, 19 Pago Haini, 20 Ben Weischedel, 21 Cristian Rodriguez, 22 Seru Vularika, 23 Jonetani Vasurakuta
The Giltinis play San Diego Legion in San Diego on Sunday from 3pm (PT). The match will be broadcast live on Bally Sports SoCal in Los Angeles and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.