'It's a work in progress': Hawaiian prop makes first Leinster appearance

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

BY USING ALL 29 of his extended matchday squad on Saturday afternoon, Leo Cullen afforded himself the opportunity to cast his eye over a number of players operating at senior level for the first time, including tighthead prop Roman Salanoa.

A former high school American football player from Hawaii, Salanoa has been with Leinster since September 2017 and after training with the senior team during pre-season, came off the bench for the final 14 minutes of the province’s 47-17 victory over Coventry at Donnybrook.

Standing at six foot and tipping the scales at over 125kg, Salanoa — who has Samoan ancestry — is an extremely powerful and dynamic athlete, and showed glimpses of his potential on his first senior appearance for Leinster.

The 21-year-old has been playing AIL rugby with Old Belvedere since his arrival in Ireland nearly three years ago and has developed under the coaching and guidance of Leinster’s sub-academy coaches, while lining out for the province’s ‘A’ side in last season’s Cara Cup campaign.

“It’s his third season over here,” Cullen explained. “He’s just learning the nuances of playing rugby. In terms of a physical profile, he’s so big and powerful and he moves well for someone his size.

“He has got good athletic ability, but it’s just learning the nuts and bolts of scrummaging first. As a tighthead, that’s what you want first and foremost from him. He’s working away and getting more exposure to coaching all the time. It’s a work in progress with Roman.”

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'It's a work in progress': Hawaiian prop makes first Leinster appearance