Seawolves Bring Back Staller
Source: Quinn Width Photography
The still defending (and only) Champions Seattle Seawolves have had a quiet off-season. General Manager Adrian Balfour made a splash at the draft selecting Saint Mary’s utility back Aaron Matthews (who has looked outstanding at the Bermuda World Tens) and Canadian centre Nick Taylor from Lindenwod.
The London Irish did everyone a solid and took it upon themselves to announce that Ross Neal would return, but that has been the extent of the Seawolves announcements this off-season. The singing announcements have now begun to trickle out of Seattle. Last week they announced the return of star prop Tim Metcher and they have now followed that up with 15-cap Canadian Brock Staller.
The MLR’s leading scorer in 2019 returns to Seattle for the 2021 season. Staller has one of the best boots in the league. In 2019 Staller registered 48 conversions and 26 penalties to go along with 6 tries in becoming the first player in MLR history to reach 200 points (he would finish the regular season with 204). Staller would go on to add another 19 points (5 conversions, 3 penalties) in the Seawolves’ playoff victories over the Toronto Arrows and San Diego Legion.
Despite those numbers, Staller was unable to earn an invite to Canada’s Rugby World Cup camp to the surprise of many. In total, Staller has racked up 294 points over the first three MLR seasons.
As a winger, Staller is a strong ball carrier with a good nose for the tryline. Staller has picked up 9 tries in his three seasons with Seattle including the historic first try in Seawolves history. Staller has since been joined by John Moonlight (Arrows), Matt Heaton (Rugby ATL), and Doug Fraser (Old Glory DC) as Canadians who scored the first try for an MLR franchise. He possesses speed to burn and solid hands under the high ball as well. Staller made 113 tackles in 2019 and followed that up with 25 tackles at an 83% completion rate.
Staller is a great all-around player, with a skill set that is magnified by his massive boot. However, it will be interesting to see how that boot is utilized going forward. In his record setting 2019 campaign, Staller was the guy in Seattle with every big kick coming off of his boot. In 2020, flyhalf Ben Cima began to receive his fair share of opportunities off the tee.
Staller was 11/12 (91%) from the tee and Cima was a perfect 12/12. Both Staller and Cima are deadly accurate and have range most kickers would dream of. It will be interesting to see how Kees Lansing manages their usage in 2021.
The Seattle Seawolves are traditionally the American team that has the most Canadians on the squad. It appears Staller’s fellow winger Jeff Hassler will be headed out the door, but Seattle should provide plenty of opportunities for Canadians once again. We will wait with anticipation as they continue to roll out their roster. Staller becomes the 15th Canadian officially signed to an American MLR team for 2021:
Moe Abdelmonem (Austin Gilgronis-Flanker) Hank Stevenson (Dallas Jackals-Lock) Nik Hildebrand (Houston SaberCats-Prop) Robbie Povey (Houston SaberCats-Flyhalf/Fullback) Josh Larsen (New England Free Jacks- Lock) Kyle Baillie (NOLA Gold- lock/back row) Eric Howard (NOLA Gold- Hooker) Doug Fraser (Old Glory DC- Centre/Wing) Ciaran Hearn (Old Glory DC- Centre) Matt Heaton (Rugby ATL- Flanker) Conor Keys (Rugby ATL- Lock) Quinn Ngawati (Rugby United New York-Centre) Josh Thiel (San Diego Legion- Centre) Brock Staller (Seattle Seawolves- Winger) Nick Taylor (drafted by Seattle Seawolves- Centre)