Without a doubt, one of the big finds in the American National Rugby League in recent times is center Akarika Dawn.
The former University of Colorado linebacker took up rugby league only four years ago and has been on a fast track to the national team ever since.
After graduating from college, Dawn had a stint in the Arena Football League and then looked at both rugby union and sevens before opting for league believing that his American football background was better suited to the 13-man code. That decision paid off with his inclusion in the USA Tomahawks lineup for the Donnybrook Cup Test against Ireland on St Patrick’s Day.
Dawn made a dream debut scoring two tries and assisting on another in the USA’s 38-20 victory.
“The experience was really special. Being a football player who four years ago didn't know a thing about rugby, then to have the opportunity to represent the nation is a bit different. I had a great time,” Dawn told WeAreRugby.
He certainly savored the experience and is keen to ensure that it's not a one off thing.
“I am always humbled by success and I would like to become a steady member of the squad, and the game was the first step,” continued Dawn.
The hard-hitting center broke into the AMNRL in 2009 with the Jacksonville team in Florida and stayed there through 2011, but this year he has signed with the Atlantic Conference expansion club Fairfield County Crocs.
Dawn’s plan is to continue improving his overall game so that he can become a regular member of the Tomahawks’ roster in the lead up to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
“I've had the fortune of playing high level collegiate football as well as a short while professionally,” he added. “These experiences helped me adjust to international level rugby. I just hope I can learn as much as possible and ride this wave as far as I can take it.”