High-impact flanker Angus Cottrell is fit, available and ready to return to the LA Giltinis backrow for Sunday’s Championship final at the Coliseum.
It’s a huge boost for the showdown against Rugby ATL because of Cottrell’s physical hustle and his knack for try-scoring with 11 this season.
Cottrell needed the Giltinis to win last weekend’s Western Conference final to finish his three-game suspension and still have a game to play.
“When that Luke Burton conversion hit the upright, it did flash into my head momentarily that it could be my season done,” Cottrell admitted.
Rather than fade at 13-12 down, the Giltinis dug deep with the character they have radiated all season to beat the Utah Warriors 17-13 at the death.
“It’s tough watching and not being involved but that finish to make the final was a real good team effort,” Cottrell said.
“I was ball-boying and doing what I could at training to prepare the guys because a team-first mentality has helped get us here.
“I can’t wait to get back out on the field.
“When the guys first started doing Zoom calls to get to know each other late last year, the goal we all spoke of was being there on August 1.
“I’ve never been in a professional rugby final before so, yeah, this is exciting.”
FAMILY BONDS AT THE GILTINIS
When Los Angeles Times reporter Luca Evans visited the Giltinis’ dressing room after the Western Conference final, he was taken by the bonds that bind the team.
It’s easy to forget that the Giltinis were born over Zoom calls and many of the players signed from eight countries spoke for months before actually meeting for the first time.
Every player, coach and staff member has made sacrifices but all know what is precious to them.
Australian backs Adam Ashley-Cooper, with son Ace, and Matt Giteau, with daughter Winter, both have infant children within the families they relocated to LA.
The Giltinis were formed in adversity. They’ve won games in adversity beyond the sparkle of tries and full-on attack.
That’s a backbone to a club that means something because the players will all be playing for the rugby family they have created in this Championship final.
(vs Utah Warriors)
Ball carries: Mahe Vailanu 14, Corey Thomas 14, DTH van der Merwe 11
Running Metres: DTH van der Merwe 120, Billy Meakes 102, Corey Thomas 74, Adam Ashley-Cooper 74, John Ryberg 74
Tackles: Mahe Vailanu 19, Dave Dennis 15, Christian Poidevin 12, Marco Fepulea’i 11
Tackle Busts: John Ryberg 5, Billy Meakes 4, DTH van der Merwe 2, Matt Giteau 2
Line Breaks: Adam Ashley-Cooper 2
Ruck/Maul arrivals: Nathan Den Hoedt 32, Christian Poidevin 25, Billy Meakes 25, Dave Dennis 20
Try-scoring (season): Angus Cottrell 11, DTH van der Merwe 10, Harrison Goddard 9
Courtesy: Stats Perform
Lindsey Stevens – Hooker (knee)
Adam Ashe - Backrower (bicep)
JP Smith – Prop (calf)
Sione Tuihalamaka - Prop (tricep)
Jonetani Vasurakuta - Winger-centre (knee)
Watson Filikitonga - Centre (foot)
Jeff Peleseuma – Five-eighth (foot)
The big one! The LA Giltinis face Rugby ATL in Sunday’s Championship final from 1pm (PT) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Tickets start at $10 + service fees.
The match will be broadcast live on CBS in USA and can also be viewed live on The Rugby Network internationally.