LA Giltinis signed Pago Haini (Pagopagohokma Taeaomua Haini) for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 29-year-old No.8/blindside flanker is 6’1″ and 249 lbs.
He played for the New England Free Jacks during the team’s 2019 exhibition and was a key Cara Cup contributor. He re-signed for 2020, but did not play during the COVID-19 shortened season.
In 2018 he played 46 minutes in four matches as a reserve.
Pago was born in American Samoa and grew up in Samoa (Western Samoan). He then attended St Joseph College, a well-known rugby school in Samoa before receiving a Rugby/Academic scholarship to attend Churchie, Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He then went to Wellington to attend Victoria University before migrating to the USA.
Pago played rugby for the Churchie 1st XV 2008-09, Samoan U19s 2010, Samoa High Performance Unit in 2010, Wellington U20s 2011, trialed for Wellington Lions Train On Squad 2012, Wellington Samoan 2012-2016 (plays in the Hurricanes Development Sides Competition) and club rugby for Old Boys University Wellington 2011-2012, and Marist St. Pats RFC in the Wellington Rugby Union’s Swindale Shield and Jubilee Cup Premier from 2013-2016.
Pago debuted for the Eagles 7s at the Wellington Sevens in 2017 and played at the Sydney Sevens HSBC Sevens Series stop. In 2017 he played with the Santa Monica Rugby Club Dolphins and was a player-coach for their sevens team. He also played with the USA Islanders against the Saracens in Bermuda in August 2017.
Following playing with the Houston SaberCats and New England Free Jacks, Pago played with Marist St Pat’s in Wellington, New Zealand in 2020.
LA Giltinis Comments
Backrow signing Pagopago Haini has literally put American Samoa on the Major League Rugby map with the LA Giltinis today announcing his signing on a one-year deal.
“Pago”, short for “Pagopagohokma”, which honours his birth in American Samoa’s port capital of Pago Pago when his parents were church ministers in the Pacific.
“I’m very excited because I wasn’t sure I’d get another crack in the US,” Haini said after his contract was signed on January 13.
“I’ve obviously had those two years around MLR clubs but don’t feel I’ve lived up to my potential (because his Houston season was ruined by a major knee injury).
“I feel healthy, very confident and know Los Angeles is a really good fit for me.”
“Playing for the Eagles in sevens as injury cover was a real opportunity and it led to playing half a season of club rugby with Santa Monica in 2017-18,” Haini said.
“It gave me a good feel for the positives of playing with the Giltinis because I know how massive the following is for rugby in southern California.
“Having an ex-international No.8 like (former Wallaby) Stephen Hoiles as an assistant coach will be really beneficial in developing my game as well.
“I got to do a bit with the youth programs run by Santa Monica rugby and the opportunity is there through the Giltinis for so many new kids to enjoy the game.
“I’ve got my Level One and Two coaching papers so that’s an area I do enjoy away from playing.”
Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman said he is looking forward to all Haini can bring to the club.
“Pago is a traditional Polynesian forward…big, physical and aggressive,” Coleman said.
“The added bonuses are he’s had playing experience in the USA already and my background checks have all indicated he’s a really good, positive team man.
“Put those things together and the Giltinis have another good signing.”
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