By Peter Borlase, Head Coach
It’s great to be able to update our Colorado rugby family on the squad we have put together ahead of the coming MLR campaign. Our staff has been working diligently over the past several months in planning for a new and improved team environment for the 2020 Raptors season. A big part of this was recruiting players who bought in to a team first, win now mindset, and personally I’m extremely excited to welcome our new additions to Colorado.
A lot of time has gone into listening to players on our previous MLR squads and making important adjustments and changes needed as we move forward into next season. Pre-season and in-season planning is all in place and we can’t wait to have the squad back in the building getting down to work, and, of course, fun!
While we have a large percentage of our previous Raptors team returning, we have had a handful of players hang up their boots, a few more players move to other MLR teams and even a couple of other players recruited to professional teams overseas. The landscape of professional sport always brings opportunity for a lot of player mobility. This is inevitable as teams in this league are only able to protect a certain number of squad members, but we want to make sure in coming seasons that the player’s decision to leave our environment is truly a tough one as they feel a sense of belonging to everything we’re about.
As always we are proud to be a place where top athletes develop, both as players and as individuals. We are also happy to be a part of many players’ development as coaches, trainers and strength and conditioning professionals during their time here in Glendale. We’ve spent a ton of hours watching footage, talking to players and analyzing data to ensure the right players are being recruited to help round out this next squad of Raptors. We know we’re blessed to have the city facilities available to us and this sets us up for success, but ultimately it’s the humans inside the bricks and mortar that control the direction and results.
Our squad is all in place with a few remaining spots that will be named in the coming weeks as we want to respect players wishes playing out current contracts. We are extremely excited to announce the release of our squad, which we think is a great mix of experience and youth. The below players will be the nucleus that builds the next decade of rugby dominance here in Colorado!
Your squad of returning Raptors:
Connor Cook (Back Row)
Brendan Daly (Lock)
Carlo De Nysschen (Scrumhalf)
Marco Fepulea’i (Prop)
Kelepi Fifita (Prop)
Mateo Gadsden (Wing)
Hanco Germishuys (Flanker)
Chad Gough (Hooker)
Seth Halliman (Back Three)
Nick Johnson (Wing)
Campbell Johnstone (Center)
Mika Kruse (Center)
Chad London (Center)
Ata Malifa (Inside Center/Flyhalf)
Dakota O’Neil (Lock)
Robert Petzer (Flyhalf)
Blake Rogers (Prop)
John Ryberg (Wing)
Luke White (Lock)
And now on to your newly-recruited Raptors:
Nick Boyer (Scrumhalf/Utility back)- California native, played with the San Diego Legion
Michael Curry (Back Row) – From New Zealand, playing recently with Tasman Mako
Mason Emerson (Back Three) – From New Zealand, played with Hawke’s Bay
Jacob Finau (Hooker) – California native, played with Life University West
Digby Ioane (Center) – From Australia, playing recently with Panasonic Wild Knights
Ryan James (Back Three) – California native, played with the 2017-18 Raptors Academy
Tomas Quinlan (Flyhalf) – From Ireland, played with Munster Rugby
Aladdin Schirmer (Back Row)- Washington native, played with the Seattle Seawolves.
Michael Stewart (Back Row) – From New Zealand, played with Rugby Southland
Xendy Tatibouet (Hooker) – From France, played with Etang Sale RC
Sakaria Taulafo (Prop) – From Samoa, played with Stade Francais
Sean Yacoubian (Scrumhalf) – From Scotland, played with St. Mary’s University
Our pre-season commences on Dec. 2, with many of our players filtering into Colorado over the course of the next month. We are going to be working tirelessly to make sure the rugby showcased on our Infinity Park pitch is something we’re all proud of.
We appreciate the continued support and look forward to repaying the faith come Feb. 8, when our regular season starts. Until then, have a safe and enjoyable fall.