Captain Dave Dennis is convinced that the pedigree of worldwide trophy success within the LA Giltinis will help the club in Sunday’s tightest play-off moments.
The Major League Rugby season reaches the drama of the knockout stages against the Utah Warriors at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 3pm (PT).
For Dennis, the former Wallaby (pictured below) who played 18 Tests for Australia, it’s exactly the cauldron he signed to play in.
“I’ve enjoyed every week of this season as different and challenging and now we get to step it up,” Dennis said.
“We have a lot of experience around play-offs and playing finals with the players we have at the Giltinis and that helps knowing the intensity that is required.
“You don’t know the intensity of finals until you’ve experienced them.
“The importance of being accurate around our execution goes up and that’s why I’ve been barking at training. That old saying ‘play as you train’ is a big one to establish because you don’t want costly small mistakes in a knockout game.”
Lock Dennis, 35, brings his own trophy-winning experience to the table from the NSW Waratahs (Australia) and Exeter (England). Playmaker Matt Giteau has been a cool contributor in the fiercest finals to win multiple trophies with Toulon (France) and the Brumbies (Australia).
Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has savoured the winning feeling with the Waratahs (Australia) and Kobe Steelers (Japan).
Classy Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe won PRO12 titles with the Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) and Scarlets (Wales) during his time in the United Kingdom.
Forward Luke White played in the 2018 MLR Championship game with the Glendale Raptors.
Scrumhalf Harrison Goddard, prop Charlie Abel and hooker Mahe Vailanu bounced straight to LA from a club title with Gordon in Sydney where Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman was guiding the show.
“One big thing you learn is not to get too far ahead of yourself. We haven’t won anything yet so the focus and extra energy is solely on this week,” Dennis said.
“We’re driving that desire, individually and collectively, that we play the best we have all season on Sunday.
“We have to turn up hungry because the reality is we are facing a Utah team just as hungry.”
Dennis has proved an ironman in one of rugby’s most physically demanding positions by playing 15 matches straight before missing last weekend’s game.
His first season in the MLR has reinforced what he loves about rugby when being part of different teams.
“I’ve really enjoyed being part of a new club and developing a strong team culture from the start,” Dennis said.
“You have players who have been in the game for seven months and others for 20 years. It’s such a diverse group and everyone has jumped on board.
“Yes, we can have fun in a great city but you earn the right to have fun.”
The LA Giltinis face the Utah Warriors in Sunday’s Western Conference play-off from 3pm (PT) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Tickets start at $10 + service fees
The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network in the USA and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.