Combine Star To AG’s Starter, Dom Akina Turning Heads Through Two Matches
Feb. 19 2020 (AUSTIN, TX) In November of 2019, Dominic Akina was invited to the Austin MLR scouting combine with a dream of playing professional rugby and the skills and athleticism to back it up.
Akina played four years of college football at Western Oregon University and in the off-season he continued to play his first love, rugby.
On the day of the combine he checked in, surveyed the talent and shook hands with rugby legends Andrew Suniula and Todd Clever, who would in just a few hours give him his MLR shot.
It was in the vertical test that Akina left his stamp on the combine.
Adjusting the vertical test equipment was Corey Jones, an aerial specialist who had just signed with Austin after earning his first USA 7s cap just months prior.
Akina did a spin to show the testers the number on his bib, then took a deep breath before launching himself skyward.
Combine participants, fans, and coaches were left stunned.
Corey Jones erupts into laughter and tosses the measurement tool in awe of the leap Akina had put down on his first attempt.
The vertical leap itself alone wouldn’t be enough to earn Akina his professional shot. Minutes later he proved he was the fittest player on the pitch that day in the Bronco test. He followed that up by laying down a blistering 40 meter dash time, and finished it all off with a solid showcase of his skills in the rugby-specific tests.
Akina would be staying in Austin for the foreseeable future, but he would first have to earn a role in the squad in preseason camp.
“It’s been awesome, since day one these guys welcomed me with open arms,” says Akina. “I know I came out of the combine an unknown name and I still have a lot to prove and the coaches are helping me get there.”
Against the Blacks in the final match of the preseason Akina earned man of the match honors after breaking off several long runs and twice dotting down tries for the AG’s.
Through his first two matches in Major League Rugby, Akina has played 160 minutes for the AG’s and made 100% of his tackles with 29 in total. His nine carries for 70 meters have all broken the gainline, including his first MLR try against RUNY in Las Vegas.
After the match, New York’s head coach Greg McWilliams came into the Austin locker room to provide some praise to the effort the AG’s laid down in the second half against his New York squad.
As McWilliams wrapped up, he finished with: “I hope your number 7 is alright, that guy is an absolute machine out there.”
If there’s a Breakout Player of the Year Award on the horizon in year three of Major League Rugby, Akina should be a frontrunner after two matches.
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