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Pila Taufa, the former U19 flyer, is the only extended camp member to be retained at the Olympic Training Center longer than previously scheduled. Gabe Adler and Madison Hughes also remain in Chula Vista, but are scheduled to leave at the end of January.
Taufa, 23 years old, will stick around until at least through the USA Sevens. He will be playing in Las Vegas next month, whether it’s with the Eagles in the IRB 7s World Series or in the LVI with the USA Falcons or another developmental team. His stay at the OTC could be extended further after Vegas.
A teammate of contracted Eagle Tai Enosa on the USA U19s, Taufa has been on the radar of Team USA coaches for years. He played a little with Eagles assistant Andy Katoa in Aspen several years ago, played League in Australia, and he’s most recently been playing with the Tama Laie Lions in Hawaii while working and supporting his parents.
Taufa is fast, really fast. He actually timed faster 10-meter and 40-meter sprints than Carlin Isles last week. (Isles casually clocked a 4.18 40-yard dash for fun between training sessions Monday). Taufa is also a little bigger than Maka Unufe, and could easily be confused for Jack Halalilo. But, he has little high level experience and improvements to make.
The book on Taufa in the past has been that he’s not committed to rugby,
which is understandable considering he is financially supporting his
parents. But this time, Taufa appears to be all in.