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It will be an interesting year for the Rugby World Cup veteran, as the club has undergone more than its share of turnover.
“We are really young this year,” said Esikia. “We have a lot of new players
– some guys who played football at UNLV, some guys who have moved here.
Interest in rugby is growing in the city and we’re getting interest from a
lot of athletes.”
The Blackjacks have also seen the addition of some players from the University of Utah.
Pati Afa, formerly in the Samoan national 7s program, is with the club after marrying a Las Vegas resident. He will likely slot in at outside center.
Esikia himself will possibly play some at scrumhalf, content to use the impressive backline on the squad.
How good are the backs? Well consider that Willie Bloomfield, now working also as the team’s defensive coach, will switch from center to flanker. He will bring some much-needed veteran leadership to a forward pack that is very young.
Scrums and lineouts might suffer, especially in the early going, but in the loose Vegas will be fast and will want to keep the ball moving.
“We are dynamic in the backs,” Esikia said. “We will play a wide open game and with our preseason matches the guys are getting into a pattern.”
Watch out for former football player Marcus White, who will step in at No. 8 and is an impressive runner.
The Blackjacks have a long way to go, and will need some of their youngsters to step up. They aren;’t necessarily savvy in the tight game, but on the fast track they will be hard to stop.