New England Free Jacks vs NE Independents: Round 2 Preview

The New England Free Jacks host the New England Independents in their second preseason match against each other on Friday, January 24 at Union Point Sports Complex. Kickoff is at 8:30 pm and the match is a sell-out.

In the first match on January 18, the Free Jacks defeated the Independents 39-7 after taking a 24-7 lead into the break. View Match Preview! Mitch Wilson and Cam Davidowicz were named Players of the Match.

New England Free Jacks

Head Coach Josh Smith has made six changes in his starters from the first match against the New England Independents. Kyle Ciquera joins the team from the wider training squad, with Ronan McCusker at lock, Evan Geist at flanker, Tim Guillimin at scrumhalf, with Sam Beard, and Liam Steel the centers. Poasa Waqanibau moved from outside center to wing and Mitch Wilson from inside center to fullback. Both Oliver Engelhart and Peceli Rinakama will get their first 2020 action as reserves.

The New England Free Jacks will start Kyle Ciquera, who is a member of their training squad at loosehead prop. The 22-year-old prop is 6’0″ and 260 lbs and is a St. Bonaventure graduate. He played with the Free Jacks during the 2019 exhibition season and then with Sumner in New Zealand. He is a member of the Mystic River Rugby Club and played tighthead prop with the New England Independents last week. He hopes his performance will lead to an MLR contract.

Kyle is joined in the front row by Sean McNulty at hooker and Kensuke Hatakeyama at tighthead. Sean played for Rugby United New York on loan, with the Free jacks, and Leinster A. Kensuke is well known in world rugby circles earning 78 caps for Japan.

Jackson Thiebes and Ronan McCusker will pair in the second row. Jackson plays for Mystic River and played with the Free Jacks in 2019 and trained with Rugby United New York on loan. Ronan played with Rainey in the All Ireland League.

The back row will have flankers Evan Geist and Owen Hundt with Naulia Dawai at No.8. Evan played with the Meralomas and Denver Barbarians before joining the Free Jacks for the 2019 exhibition season. Owen played this past Summer in New Zealand, plays with Mystic River, and was with the Free Jacks in 2019. Naulia is a new addition this year to the squad. He’s played with Connacht, Southland, and Otago.

The halfbacks are Tim Guillimin, who played with the Free Jacks in 2019. He also played with the Austin Huns and Austin Herd. Tadhg Leader has been capped for the U.S. and played with NOLA Gold and the San Diego Legion, and Free jacks.

The centers’ pair Sam Beard and Liam Steel with a back three of Poasa Waqanibau, Deion Mikesell and Mitch Wilson.

Sam has played with the Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh, the Crusaders and Bay of Plenty. Liam also played for the Bay of Plenty and spent time with the All Blacks Sevens Development team, as well as the Blues and the Chiefs Super Rugby Development sides.

Poasa played with Canterbury and Border Rugby Clubs, Deion is a capped Eagle, and Mitch was an All-American at Life University.

Get to know the Free jacks players! Player profile article are included under the squads and several players that are not on the matchday squad this week are profiled in last week’s preview article with a link included above in the article.

New England Independents

The New England Independents have also made six changes from the first match against the Free jacks. Sean Moran is at tighthead prop, Sean McElhinney and Ryan Hargraves are the flankers ith Cam Davidowicz switching from flanker to No.8. Hashim Soufan is at flyhalf, George Kokkalis at the center, and Karl Rempe at wing. Brian Patterson switches from wing to fullback.

There are also four changes in the reserves with Everett Sullivan, Mike Weis, Billy Coughlin, and Nicholas Ducey joining the matchday squad.

Squads with Free Jacks Player Profile Articles

New England Free Jacks: 1 Kyle Ciquera 2 Sean McNulty 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama 4 Jackson Thiebes 5 Ronan McCusker 6 Evan Geist 7 Owen Hundt 8 Naulia Dawai 9 Timothée Guillimin 10 Tadhg Leader 11 Poasa Waqanibau 12 Sam Beard 13 Liam Steel 14 Deion Mikesell 15 Mitch Wilson Reserves: 16 Diego Maquieira 17 Steve Hinshaw 18 Simon Courcoul 19 Conor Kindregan 20 Zack Stryffeler 21 Oliver Engelhart 22 Peceli Rinakama 23 Danny Collins

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 Sean Moran 4 Timmy O’Connor 5 Cody Davidowicz 6 Sean McElhinney 7 Ryan Hargraves 8 Cam Davidowicz 9 Ian Luciano 10 Haishim Soufan 11 Karl Rempe 12 Adnan Kawuma 13 George Kokkalis 14 Andrew Marshall 15 Brian Patterson Reserves: 16 Everett Sullivan 17 Mike Weis 18 TJ Downey 19 Billy Coughlin 20 Devin Ibanez 21Liudas Jagminas  22 David Buchannan 23 Nicholas Ducey

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)

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant