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Pila Taufa joined the Eagle setup for an 18-player camp back in January. He stayed for the extended camp through the end of the month, then Eagle head coach Alex Magleby said Taufa would stick around through the Las Vegas Invitational on a trial basis. Now, Taufa should be considered a resident, giving the men’s team 17 players training full time in Chula Vista, Calif.
“He’s a good athlete. He’s learning to kind of do his athletic thing at a very fatigued level, and that’s where he wasn’t before, but he’s getting there. He’s a real athlete,” Magleby said of Taufa.
The flying Hawaiian impressed in January by beating Carlin Isles in speed tests, and he’s shown some serious potential since. In Vegas, he made a couple of big breaks for the Falcons before suffering an injury.
He sort of fits in the mold of Maka Unufe and Carlin Isles -- very good athletes who came to the team with little rugby experience.
“You’ve got to kind of check off a few boxes. Does someone have the athletic profile to someday be a star international player, a quality international player? How do they max out that potential?” said Magleby.
“We have a lot of athletes in the US who don’t necessarily have that profile, but they have done a very good job becoming a really good rugby player. Well, we need both. [Pila’s] learning curve is actually pretty good.”
Taufa is young, fast, tall and all-around athletic. He is still unpolished, but if he can get the rest of his game up to speed, he’ll give the Eagles a legitimate third burner.