The New England Free Jacks signed Taniela Filimone for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 23-year-old wing/center (24 in June) is 6’0″ and 215 lbs.
Taniela was born and raised on the island of Lofanga, Ha’apai. He started his rugby career at Tupou College Toloa before earning a scholarship in Rotorua, New Zealand. After High School, he spent three seasons playing for Tauranga Sports, Free Jacks’ assistant coach, Mike Rogers’ club team.
He was selected to the Bay of Plenty Under 19s, which won the National Championship in 2018. He also has since represented the Tonga U20s at the World Rugby Trophy, as well as the Bay of Plenty and the Manawatu Turbos in New Zealand’s NPC for the last couple of seasons. Recently he spent three months training with the Chiefs Super Rugby side as a replacement player.
New England Free jacks Comments
“Taniela is an excitement machine, playing center and wing he brings raw speed and athleticism to the Free Jacks backline in 2023,” commented Assistant Coach Mike Rogers. “Taniela brings huge enthusiasm and humor into our environment and no doubt will become a crowd favorite at Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2023!”
“I’m excited to come to the Free Jacks and experience a new mix of rugby knowledge and culture,” commented Filimone. “It will be an honor to wear the jersey and represent the club. I can’t wait to start this next chapter, and I especially want to thank my family as they are everything to me. Every game I play is dedicated to my mom and dad because without them I wouldn’t have opportunities like this.”
Taniela will be a welcome addition, bringing versatility and X-factor to an already well-constructed New England backline heading into the 2023 MLR season. A player right on the fringe of international and Super Rugby, Taniela will be looking to stamp his mark on the competition, and develop his game further while under the tutelage of Scott Mathie, and Mike Rogers
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