Tuculet Highlights Latest Group of Arrows’ Signings
Source: Stephen Tremain / UAR
The Toronto Arrows made another massive roster announcement on Tuesday morning! The club announced the returns of hooker Jack McRogers and Canada’s 2019 Rugby World Cup fullback Patrick Parfrey. The highlight of the group was Los Pumas fullback Joaquín Tuculet!
The re-signing of McRogers ensures that all three hookers from the 2020 squad will return for 2021. McRogers is a young prospect at just 21 years of age. He has worked his way up through the Ontario Blues age grade system and represented the Canada U20 team. McRogers has appeared in two MLR games when the Arrows defeated the Utah Warriors 64-31 in a record-breaking affair and the Arrows home victory against the Austin (formerly known as) Elite.
In both instances McRogers came on in relief of Steven Ng playing a total of 17 minutes in his two appearances. McRogers, who is yet to miss a tackle in the MLR, is a bright prospect. In 2021 he will continue to serve as the third-choice hooker behind Andrew Quattrin and Ng.
Patrick Parfrey was a late addition to the Arrows in 2019. Parfrey made his debut in the Arrows’ 11th game of the season, a 29-7 victory over the Seattle Seawolves. Parfrey would go on to make six appearances for the Arrows amassing 34 carries, 166m, and 21 tackles with an 87.5% completion rate. Parfrey did not make any appearances for the Arrows in 2020 as he was pursuing his PhD before the season was cancelled.
Parfrey is an incredibly valuable player to Arrows, and that value can be attributed in equal parts to his skill level and his versatility. Parfrey is capable of playing flyhalf, centre or fullback. From any position Parfrey has demonstrated tremendous skill and vision on the offensive side of the ball. He is equally capable defensively as well. Parfrey has been capped 32 times by Canada scoring six tries. Parfrey was a key cog in Canada’s 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign.
In the build up to the tournament, Parfrey had an unreal game against Tonga in which he scored a try and set up two others in just 19 minutes of work. He never let the 15 jersey go after that. Parfrey’s return will greatly bolster the Arrows depth, which received another massive boost on Tuesday.
I have been saying for quite some time that the Arrows are the deepest team in MLR. If for some strange reason you disagreed with my assessment, the addition of 56 cap Los Puma Joaquín Tuculet should put an end to that. The 31-year old has an insane amount of versatility as he is capable of playing fullback, centre, wing, and even flyhalf. His position of choice is fullback, but the ability to have a player of this calibre with that level of versatility is immense for the Arrows.
Tuculet has been one of the best Argentinian players of the last decade and he joins a growing South American contingent on the Arrows. Tuculet credited Tomás de la Vega for playing a role in him choosing to join the Arrows. Recent additions for the 2021 season Gastón Cortes, Manuel Montero and Juan Cruz González also hail from Argentina. Tuculet has been a key player for Los Pumas since his debut against Italy in 2012.
He was part of the Argentina squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2015 RWC. He scored two tries in five games at the tournament. Tuculet’s most recent international outing was a two try performance against the USA at the 2019 RWC, ultimately giving Tuculet four tries in six RWC games over his career. In total, Tuculet has scored 18 tries over his 56 test matches including the 2017 try of the year. When not playing internationally, Tuculet has suited up for Jaguares, Sale Sharks, Bordeaux, and Grenoble.
Tuculet features everything you could possibly want out of a fullback. The has unreal pace, a terrific step, fantastic with ball in hand, and is amazing under the high ball. He can put all those attributes together and it will lead to plenty of Arrows tries in 2021.
The depth of the Toronto Arrows backline will be quite special to watch next year. So many players will be capable of starting on any other MLR team, yet they may not even crack an Arrows matchday squad. The positional versatility of players like Tuculet, Parfrey, González, Mieres, Shawn Windsor, and even Tayler Adams or Mitch Richardson leave Mark Winokur and his staff with seemingly unlimited options in the back line.
The competition for spots should be immense and incredibly talented players will be left out of the matchday squad each week. To be perfectly honest, after picking the six starting backs, the complete second choice backline could be something many MLR teams dream of. For example, let’s say you start:
9. Andrew Ferguson, 10. Tayler Adams, 11. Manuel Montero, 12. Guiseppe du Toit, 13. Ben LeSage, 14. Gastón Mieres, 15. Joaquín Tuculet
The second-choice backline would then be:
9. Jason Higgins, 10. Juan Cruz González, 11. Leandro Leivas, 12. Spencer Jones, 13. Mitch Richardson, 14. Johnny Sheridan, 15. Patrick Parfrey
Two solid backlines. However, the position versatility of certain players can allow for plenty of creativity. Additionally, plenty of positions should have quite the battle for the starting jobs. So, let’s mix this up a little bit:
9. Higgins, 10. Adams, 11. Mieres, 12. Jones, 13. LeSage, 14. Tuculet, 15. González
This creates a second choice back line of:
9. Ferguson, 10. Will Kelly, 11. Leivas, 12. du Toit, 13. Richardson, 14. Montero, 15. Parfrey
Just for fun, how about an all capped starting line-up?
9. Ferguson, 10. Kelly, 11. Montero, 12. Du Toit, 13. LeSage, 14. Leivas, 15. Tuculet
No matter who you chose, two capped players are left off (in this case Mieres and Parfrey). Not to mention, Adams, Gonzalez, Higgins, Jones, Richardson, Sheridan, and Shawn Windsor are still available.
Perhaps one of these combinations will be the starting backline on March 20th, 2021. Perhaps, none of them will be. Training camp will be the place that all the immense position battles will take place. The point that I wish to make clear is that the depth on this squad is absolutely insane. As of right now the possibilities seem endless.
I want to know what you think! With this insane depth, what would your starting backline be for the 2021 MLR Championship Final between the Toronto Arrows and [insert the reader’s preferred Western Conference team name here]? Let me know by reaching out to @BressetteTheJet or @LaymansSports on twitter!
And let’s be honest, the Arrows’ expectation for 2021 is bringing the Shield north of the border.