The New England Free Jacks will play their first preseason match ahead of their inaugural Major League Rugby 2020 season on Saturday, January 18 at the Union Point Sports Complex. Kickoff is at 3:30 pm.
Free Jacks Head Coach Josh Smith announced his matchday squad to face the New England Independents, a select squad of All-Star talent representing players from eight clubs around the area.
There has been overwhelming interest in this match from fans wanting to attend, so the fixture is to be played outside on the world-class turf field. This allows as many fans as feasible the ability to see the team in action ahead of the Major League Rugby season in less than 3-weeks.
Kensuke Hatakeyama and Tolu Fahamokioa will start at prop in this first of a two-match series kicking off at 3:30 pm on Saturday, January 18. Both props will look to showcase their experience at scrum-time and dynamic athleticism across the park in their first performances in New England. Sean McNulty, US-Irish hooker, joins the pair in the front row.
Workhorses, Conor Kindregan and Jackson Thiebes start at lock for the Free Jacks, both having played dominant matches for the New England team in the 2019 exhibition season. An exciting back-row completes the pack and is composed of the youngest member of the team, Owen Hundt, MLR veteran, Zack Stryffeler, and dynamic international Fijian flanker, Naulia Dawai.
John Poland gets hit first opportunity to direct the fixture in the number 9 jersey, pairing with Tadhg Leader at Fly-half. Mitch Wilson and Poasa Waqanibau will be paired for a balance of electric speed, physicality, and flair to the midfield. The back three will see Boston native, Danny Collins, emerging USA international Deion Mikesell and former New Zealand All Blacks 7s pivot, Beaudein Waaka, combine for what is expected to be an energetic display.
Squads with Free Hacks Player Profile Articles
New England Free Jacks: 1 Tolu Fahamokioa 2 Sean McNulty 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama 4 Jackson Thiebes 5 Conor Kindregan 6 Owen Hundt 7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Naulia Dawai 9 John Poland 10 Tadhg Leader 11 Danny Collins 12 Mitch Wilson 13 Poasa Waqanibau 14 Deion Mikesell 15 Beaudein Waaka 16 Steve Hinshaw 17 Simon Courcoul18 Donald Brighouse 19 Ronan McCusker 20 Evan Geist 21 Erik Thompson 22 Timothée Guillimin 23 Christian Adams
Unavailable for selection this weekend include Sam Beard, Pago Haini, Brad Hemopo, Jon Kokinda, Josh Larsen, Diego Maquieira, Quentin Newcomer, Anthony Purpura, Liam Steel, Ahmad Harajly, Peceli Rinakama, and Oliver Engelhart.
Free Jacks Staff: Head Coach Josh Smith, Assistant Coach Kareem Afifi, High-Performance Tom Kindley, Head Athletic Trainer and Medical Manager Katherine Henry, Strength & Conditioning Coach Jared Collinson, Technical Advisor James Willocks, Team Manager Ben Nathan
New England Independents: 1 David McKenna 2 Blades Shields 3 Kyle Ciquera 4 Timmy O’Connor 5 Cody Davidowicz 6 Cam Davidowicz 7 Paul Taylor 8 Devin Ibanez 9 Ian Luciano 10 Andrew Menton 11 Brian Patterson 12 Adnan Kawuma 13 Jared Collinson 14 Andrew Marshall 15 David Buchannan 16 Sean Moran 17 Ryan Curtis 18 TJ Downey 19 Sean McElhinney 20 Ryan Hargraves 21 George Kokkalis 22 John DeCoste 23 Haishim Soufan
New England Independents Staff: Adam Zilcoski (Boston Irish Wolfhounds RFC), Michael Bozza (Mystic River Rugby Club), Thomas Clark (Tufts University), Ryan Curtis (Holy Cross), Ken Esterhuizen (South Shore Anchors RFC), Brennan Moore (Boston RFC), Alex Miccio (Northeastern University), Carrick Pell (Babson University), Ed Turbidy (Northeastern University), Joe Sanchez (Worcester RFC)