Hot on the heels of the USA qualifying for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, two Hawaiian-based players have been signed up by an Australian club.
Josh Rice and Jayson Rego will be joining the Ipswich Jets in Queensland.
Their recruitment was arranged by the AMNRL’s newly appointed football development manager Steve Johnson. The pair is expected to arrive in Australia in early December.
The ex-football players at the University of Hawaii played for the Hawaii Islanders in the AMNRL Pacific Conference this past summer. 2011 marked the conference’s inaugural season as part of the AMNRL’s expansion.
“Opportunities like this to play overseas are few and far, so we are very fortunate and blessed to have this chance,” said Rego.
“With aspirations of playing at the highest level and improving my skills as a rugby player I am very excited and eager to head overseas to play.
“To play in an environment where rugby league is played every week and at a level that's very competitive is exciting. This will give us an opportunity to, as Steve put it, "learn, grow, and show" in Queensland.”
The Jets compete in the Queensland Cup, a feeder competition to the NRL in Australia.
Rego and Rice were both drafted into the USA Tomahawks’ elite player pool this past season. Rice went on to earn two caps for the US against Canada in the Colonial Cup series, while Rego was named in the All-American team that contested the College Sevens National All-Star Championships and also played in the Canada Test in Toronto.
Ipswich is also the home club of Leslie Alovili, another young player who won his first cap for the Tomahawks against the Canadians.
Alovili, who was born in Hawaii, played for the Northern Raiders this year in the AMNRL’s Atlantic Conference.