Glasgow’s patient approach with Aki Seiuli pays off as prop earns high praise

One of the few silver linings for Glasgow Warriors from last Saturday’s demoralising defeat by Leinster at Scotstoun was the performance of debutant Aki Seiuli, who registered some impressive stats after replacing the concussed Oli Kebble at loosehead prop in the 11th minute.

Aki Seiuli made his Glasgow debut during the Guinness Pro14 match against Leinster. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS/SRU

Seiuli had been in the country for five weeks before the game, having flown in after Otago’s Mitre 10 season back in his New Zealand homeland. However, a deliberate decision was made to ease the 26-year-old into life at his new club so that he would be fresh and fully-appraised of the unique demands of northern hemisphere rugby when he did eventually get on he park.

Saturday’s performance certainly seems to suggest that this patient approach has paid off. “What a debut he had,” said Warriors forwards coach John Dalziel earlier this week. “We had a look through the stats and his were very impressive. For a guy to come off the bench and carry 21 times, make 22 tackles, hit 18 rucks is impressive. He gave us the most go-forward in terms of metres.”

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Seiuli, pictured, certainly looked fresh and hungry, with several specific big moments catching the attention in among those impressive overall stats. “I was expecting Oli to come back on, so I thought: ‘I’ll go hard for ten minutes and then he’ll come on’,” he recalled. “Then I looked to the side and George Horne as water-boy said he wasn’t coming back on. That’s when I realised, I had to get myself into the game properly. I was just happy to get my first game.”

Seiuli has some real rugby pedigree. He came off the bench for the Highlanders alongside fellow prop Siua Halanukonuka – who is now his team-mate and landlord in Glasgow – against the Lions in 2017, with the duo making an immediate impact by squeezing the scrum penalty which ultimately clinched the match.

Now he has his heart set on making some history for his new team. He will be hoping to take another step towards that by being involved in Warriors’ crucial Champions Cup clash in La Rochelle tomorrow.