MLR Expansion Draft: Seattle Seawolves
MLR Expansion Draft: Seattle Seawolves
After winning the MLR Shield after finishing in second place during the regular season, the Seawolves will be disappointed in their 1-4 finish and 10thplace finish in 2020. Injuries and visa delays affected their team cohesion.
Editor's Note: Our list of unprotected players is our list alone—not an official team list of unprotected players but our speculation based on what we know.
The Seattle Seawolves utilized 38 players in 2020. The age range was between 22-36 with ten players between 30-36 (Juan Manuel Leguizamon36, William Rasileka35, Eric Duechle34 (May), Shalom Suniula, Mat Turner, Kellen Gordon, Andrew Durutalo 32, Stephan Coetzee 31, Mike Shepherd, Peter Tiberio 30). Eight players are 22-25 (FP Pelser, Ryno Eksteen, Ross Neal 25, Nakai Penny, Ben Cima, Matt Brennan, Scott Dean 24, George Barton 22). The remaining 20 players are 26-29.
Canadian international Djustice Sears-Duru started all five matches at loosehead prop with Kellen Gordon as a reserve. Australian Tim Metcher and Canadian international Jake Ilnicki split time starting at tighthead prop with John Hayden also playing a match as a reserve. Joe Montgomery did not play at loosehead prop during the season. Rounding out the front row is South African Stephan Coetzee and Mike Shepherd, who split starting time at hooker. Vili Totuta'u also played in a match as a reserve.
In the back row, Canadian Nakai Penny started all matches at openside flanker with Vili Toluta’u, with one USA Eagles cap, Eric Duechle, and former Eagle Andrew Durutalo splitting time on the blindside. South African Riekert Hattingh is the team captain at No.8 and is now U.S. eligible. Argentina international Juan Manuel Leguizamon was also signed but did not play and his visa status is unknown.
South African Scrumhalf JP Smith started all matches with Jope Motokana a reserve. USA international flyhalf Ben Cima started two matches due to a concussion with Scott Deanalso starting two and Shalom Suniulaone. South African Ryno Eksteenwas limited to one reserve appearance due to injuries.
Vice-captain Shalom Suniula started in all matches with three of them at #12, one at #13 and previously mentioned at #10. Canadian George Barton also started at the inside center and spent time as a reserve. England's Ross Neal started one match before injuries curtailed his availability with Ireland's David Busby assuming the starting role. Joey Iosefo was a primary reserve with Canadian international Jeff Hassler also playing once. Both former Fijian international William Rasileka and Matt Brennan did not play.
Former USA international Peter Tiberio came out of retirement to start two matches at the left-wing. Canadian international Brock Staller split time between #11 and #14, with Sitiveni Tamaivena playing in four matches, two as a starter. His twin brother Suliasi Tamaivena also played in one match as a reserve.
Former England Sevens international Mat Turner started all matches at fullback. Welsh fullback Harry Davies was injured during the preseason and did not play during the regular season. As a result, Canadian international Peter Nelson, who is from Northern Ireland, was signed as a fullback/flyhalfbut did not make an appearance due to visa approval delays. He will not count toward being available in the expansion draft.
The Seawolves were affected this season by a rash of injuries and visa issues. The team does need to look to make the transition to some younger players.
The Seattle unprotected list will include several established players that will not leave the area. The visa status of Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Peter Nelson is unknown and they should not count against the team's roster. Peter Tiberio retired after the 2019 season and came back after injuries sustained by Seawolves, William Rasileka, Eric Duechle, and Jope Motokana are also not likely to leave the area. Matt Brennan is a Seattle native and Joe Montgomery is from Oregon and moved to Seattle.