Sunday’s play-off at the Coliseum will cap a crazy July for the Giltinis’ new USA Eagle Luke Carty (above), who has seen the club’s vision unfold perfectly for him.
His first taste of play-offs rugby against the Utah Warriors from 3pm (PT) is exactly where he wants to be.
“It’s like the first time every time you play at the Coliseum. We’ve all been talking about the buzz of finals footy and now it’s here. How good?,” Carty enthused.
“This season has been a dream scenario really with all that has happened.
“I’ve got to play for the US team, the Giltinis have played some great rugby and training has been really good for this moment on Sunday.
“And, from a COVID standpoint, I thought there was a good chance the season would not even go ahead.”
When Carty took the punt on relocating from Ireland as a flyhalf-utility, all he was guaranteed was sunshine for weeks on end in Los Angeles.
The man with the prodigious kicking boot and smart organisational skills has found a home among teammates who were strangers just 10 months ago.
“Apart from the great rugby, it has been even better off the pitch with how tight the team has become with friendships and a really good atmosphere,” he said.
One of the foundation aims of the Giltinis is to advance players to international honors and Carty, 23, has experienced the benefit of playing with Major League Rugby’s pacesetting club.
Recent Tests for the Eagles against England in London and Ireland in Dublin were a huge achievement.
“It’s given me extra confidence to put my shoulder to the wheel and do whatever I can to win the Championship for the Giltinis,” Carty said.
Footnote: There were no split loyalties in Dublin before kick-off when the American anthem and Ireland’s Call were sung.
“It’s important to buy into everything. I sang the American anthem proudly and I was definitely not tempted to mumble a few of the Irish words,” he said.
There’s one souvenir from Sunday’s play-off that already has a home...flyhalf Matt Giteau’s headgear.
It seems his eldest son Levi, 8, has turned this heist into a family tradition.
“Levi grabs it after every game and wears it all sweaty. I try to tell him wearing it out socially is probably a bit too far,” Giteau said with a laugh.
(vs Utah Warriors, July 17)
Ball carries: Adam Channel 9, Seru Vularika 8, Pago Haini 6
Running Metres: Seru Vularika 108, Adam Channel 95, Pago Haini 56
Tackles: Sean O’Brien 11, Luke Burton 10, Pago Haini 9
Tackle Busts: Pago Haini 2, Seru Vularika 2, Glenn Bryce 2
Line Breaks: Pago Haini 1, Luke Carty 1, Adam Channel 1, Glenn Bryce 1, Ryan James 1, Blake Rogers 1
Ruck/Maul arrivals: Luke White 13, Sean O’Brien 9, Charlie Abel 8, Pago Haini 8, Blake Rogers 8, Cyrille Cama 8
Try-scoring (season): Angus Cottrell 11, DTH van der Merwe 10, Harrison Goddard 9
Courtesy: Stats Perform
Lindsey Stevens – Hooker (knee – season-ending) Adam Ashe - Backrower (bicep – season-ending) Sione Tuihalamaka - Prop (tricep - season-ending)Jonetani Vasurakuta - Winger-centre (knee - season-ending) Watson Filikitonga - Centre (foot) Jeff Peleseuma – Five-eighth (foot)
The LA Giltinis face the Utah Warriors in Sunday’s Western Conference play-off from 3pm (PT) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network in the USA and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.