Asiata Transfers to Super Rugby
Richie Asiata has become the first player in MLR history to be transferred to another league. The Toronto Arrows prop was initially re-signed earlier this year, but the club has now announced that they have reached an agreement with Super Rugby’s Queensland Reds for Asiata’s transfer. The Arrows did receive a transfer fee for Asiata’s services. However, the amount was undisclosed.
Asiata impressed greatly in his brief stint with the Arrows. The dynamic running prop racked up 198 metres on 40 carries in his five games with the Arrows (in which he started all of them). Asiata helped for one of MLR’s best front rows with Andrew Quattrin and Cole Keith, as the dominant Arrows scrum was key to the club’s success.
Although Asiata was not included on the Queensland Reds’ initial roster announcement, he was involved in some promotional tours for the club and played in a trial match against the Waratahs last week. Asiata lined up as a hooker for that match (which you can watch here) and that looks to be where the Reds are keen to use him. Asiata was named as the reserve hooker for the Reds opening match of the 2021 Super Rugby AU campaign against the Waratahs once again.
Asiata’s departure is surely disappointing for Arrows fans as the club is down a promising young star. However, it may also be a good thing for the league. Young players around the world may begin to see MLR as a springboard to help them reach some of the bigger global leagues such as Super Rugby.
This transfer will obviously have a big impact on the Arrows. Without Asiata, the Arrows prop group is now: Rob Brouwer, Pat Lynott, Cole Keith, Gastón Cortes, Tyler Rowland, and Marc-Antoine Ouellet. Brouwer and Lynott (who was recently re-signed, but I slacked on the article so apologies for that) are now the only two loosehead props on the team.
Obviously, the Arrows could do some experimentation and test some of their tightheads on the opposite side. This could be a necessity in the event that Lynott or Brouwer becomes unavailable (injury, suspension, or other reasons). Training camp could be the ideal place to try out someone on the opposite side of the scrum. The Arrows did this a little bit last year at the pre-season scrimmage with Rugby United New York.
Here is a video of a (super uneventful) scrum in which Keith is the loosehead and Brouwer is the tighthead.
Ultimately, Brouwer, who was All MLR 1st XV in 2019, and Lynott are two excellent props. The Arrows dominate scrum still looks to be in fine form, but Asiata will be missed.
Other Roster Moves:
As I alluded to earlier, the Arrows made a few more roster moves this week. Lynott was one of two signings that the Arrows announced last Thursday. The other was the arrival of Grey College scrumhalf Ross Braude (pronounced like the name “Brody”).
Lynott will be looking to expand on a solid 2020 campaign. Lynott appeared in 4 games while making 12 tackles and playing a key role in the Arrows dominant scrum. The 25-year-old looks to be poised to make a big splash in MLR this year, as he could receive an increased role due to the absence of Asiata. Lynott should see a significant increase in playtime.
Braude hails from Pretoria, South Africa. His father is Canadian and therefore Braude is eligible to play for the Canadian national team. His first taste of Canadian rugby came this past November at the Rugby Canada High Performance Camp. Braude has played for and captained the prestigious Grey College 1st XV. Grey College is one of the best school teams in the world and has produced 46 Springboks, the most of any South African school. After Grey College, Braude went on to play for the Bulls’ age-grade sides and helped them to win the U19 and U21 titles in back-to-back years.
Braude now arrives at the Arrows and with that comes a fascinating picture at the scrumhalf position. The Arrows are now incredibly deep at scrumhalf with Braude, Jason Higgins, and Andrew Ferguson. Ferguson has 10 caps for the national team, while Braude and Higgins will both be looking to show that they are deserving of their first caps in the lead up to the RWC qualifiers later this year.
Both Higgins and Braude made an appearance at the Rugby Canada High Performance camp in November. All three scrumhalves can start in the MLR. Unfortunately, the Arrows only have one 9 jersey. This will be a fascinating storyline to watch as camp unfolds.
If any Arrows fans are interested in watching Ross Braude to get a feel for his game and what he can bring to the squad, there is plenty of video of him at Grey College on Youtube.