New England Free Jacks Announce 2024 Roster

The 2024 Squad Boasts the Highest ever Player Retention Rate

Quincy, MA – Today the New England Free Jacks revealed the 2024 roster set to defend the 2023 Major League Rugby (MLR) championship in Quincy, Massachusetts this coming March. 

The initial squad of 38 players will benefit from having the highest player retention rate of the club to date with 24 players who were part of the 2023 Championship team returning, including all 4 2023 All-MLR first team selections. 4 of the inaugural 2020 Free Jacks side return for their 5th season with the club. The team features 22 North American eligible players (10 American and 12 Canadian).

“Led by a strong core of returning players from our championship side, we are really happy with the balance of our 2024 squad,” commented Free Jacks General Manager, Tom Kindley. “Our players have fun here and you’ve been able to see that come to life on the field the past couple of seasons. We had a real focus on recruiting players who align with the Free Jack way of life this off-season and can’t wait to get to work ahead of another big year.”

Leading into 2024 all eyes will be on returning league MVP and top point scorer Jayson Potroz. Coming off a superb New Zealand National Provincial Championship (NPC) winning campaign with the Taranaki Bulls, the dazzling 32 year old fly-half will again be pulling the strings in 2024. 

MLR 2023 forward of the year, the abrasive Wian Conradie returns for his fourth MLR season. Conradie dominated the gainline during 2023 with 34 dominant tackles, and 216 carries. Wian will be joined by his Namibian teammate and All-MLR first team compatriot Le Roux Malan who has become a formidable force in the midfield since 2022, scoring a quickfire 9 tries over 11 games last season. 

Fijian try-scoring sensation Paula Balekana returns after notching a league record 15 tries last season. He is joined in the backline by All-MLR first team selection and Rugby Canada captain, Ben Lesage. All-MLR 2023 honorable mentions Reece MacDonald and Andrew Quattrin return after both impressing in their first season in New England.

In a team that boasts 524 Free Jacks appearances, four veterans will be returning for their 5th season with the club, bringing experience and driving cohesion. Club captain Josh Larsen returns from injury poised for a big year, fan favorite Kyle Ciquera returns after his strongest season to date (starting 12 games), USA international Mitch Wilson returns after a busy off-season at the international level, and the ever-reliable John Poland returns after becoming the first player to play 50 games for the Free Jacks, and securing All-MLR second team honors.

Instrumental in the 2023 championship run, captain and All-MLR second team selection Mitch Jacobson will return later in the season due to family commitments. Free Jacks fans will be happy to see the re-signing of Haverhill native Cam Davidowicz who returns after an off-season abroad playing with the Manawatu Turbos in New Zealand with fellow returning Free Jacks including Ethan Fryer and Cole Keith, an amazing development opportunity. 

14 newcomers are headlined by Chilean National Team Captain Chilean men’s national team captain Martín Sigren. Sigren joins a typically strong back row that includes other new additions in Tongan-New Zealander Sitaleki Baker of the Tasman Mako in the NPC, and former Houston Sabercat, Jaco Bezuidenhout.

In the front row, Sean Ralph (Waikato) and Malakai Hala (Manawatu) arrive from the New Zealand NPC having been recognized as national standouts at the under 20 level. MLR veterans Mason Koch (Chicago) and John-Roy Jenkinson (Atlanta) add battle hardened experience into the mix. 

Canadian Internationals, veteran Kyle Baillie, and Oxford graduate Piers von Dadelszen arrive to strengthen the second row. Baillie joins the Free Jacks after an outstanding 2023 campaign with Old Glory DC where he was awarded All-MLR second team honors, whereas von Dadelszen is just beginning his international career.

Draft picks and developing players are a highlight of the 2024 roster with 1st round pick and Canadian International Gabriel Casey, as well as 2nd round pick – Brown Football Linebacker and USA age-grade rugby player, Junior Gafa both earning contracts. Boston born Irishman Killian Coghlan is another to keep an eye on and adds options across the backline. 

Other roster highlights include the exciting Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti who arrives from the Newcastle Falcons in the English premiership. Skillful left-footer Danyon Morgan-Puterangi of North Harbour in the NPC arrives as a fly half/fullback option. Both will have important roles to play in 2024. 

In outbound news, the Free Jacks would like to congratulate Semisi Paea (FJ #75) and Mills Sanerivi (FJ #60) who have earned Super Rugby contracts with Moana Pasifika and the Waikato Chiefs respectively. Mills made 31 appearances, scoring 8 tries during the 2022 and 2023 MLR seasons.

Beaudein Waaka (FJ #15) will be released to take up another playing opportunity in Japan with Skyactivs Hiroshima in the Japanese third division. The 2022 MLR MVP has played 37 games to date for the Free Jacks between 2020 and 2023, leading the club for points scored, with 270 points in his Free Jacks career to date.

Joe Johnston (FJ #35) will not be returning to the Free Jacks for the 2024 season, instead focusing on his studies and rugby in New Zealand. Joe has been instrumental in the success and development of the club over the past three seasons, playing in 95% of the matches through that period (48 appearances to date).

The Free Jacks would like to thank Semisi, Mills, Beaudein, Joe, and all of our championship players who will not be returning in 2024 for their contributions to the club, region and our people. 

The Free Jacks are about to commence a 2 week voluntary winter camp with the best local club and collegiate players in the area invited with an eye on the next players in line. As always the player acquisition process is ongoing, so keep an eye out for more information on development and contracted player additions in the lead up to the season.

With the team now announced, we can now look ahead to Opening Day at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Free Jacks will host eight matches in 2024 beginning in March. Dates and times will be announced at a later date. Free Jacks Season Memberships for the 2024 campaign can be found here.

About New England Free Jacks: The Free Jacks are an aspiring and innovative live events, media, and consumer products organization. The core brand in the portfolio is The New England Free Jacks, the humble hard-working free-spirited professional rugby team competing in the emergent and exhilarating Major League Rugby (MLR), the premier North American professional rugby competition. For more information, please visit www.FreeJacks.com.

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