OGDC has announced the return of USA Eagle Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz. The 26-year-old eightman is a fan favorite and will be entering his fourth year with the team, but his path has been far from clean. He's still young, though, and has time to reassert himself both in the MLR and on the national stage.
From the start of Old Glory's first MLR match, Fa'anana-Schultz has been the clear starter in the 8 jersey. He started every match in 2020 and looked set to do the same in 2021. However, a three-match suspension for foul play took him out for a portion of the season. In 2022, things went even more off the rails. After starting four matches, Fa'anana-Schultz was suspended for five matches, with his previous suspension increasing the severity of the punishment. He returned for just two matches before he was suspended yet again, this time for a whopping ten weeks.
I want to make clear that I don't personally think that Fa'anana-Schultz, is a bad person, or even a particularly dirty player. He plays a pretty clean game most of the time. Compared to players like New York's Will Tucker, who seems to be actively trying to pick a fight at all times, I'd say JFS is a much more positive role model. However, we now have a clear body of evidence that the pressure of a match can get to him, and when it does, he acts unacceptably.
It's a shame, too, because JFS is a really talented player. He has the size and strength to play eightman in the MLR, but he also has enough speed to play flanker at the international level. Discipline aside, he has been a great player for Old Glory and has a genuine chance at being a regular on for the Eagles. On top of that, he's a player who gets a lot of support from the community. He has remained a fan favorite despite everything, with his fun personality and flashy play.
It was a real question whether the team would bring him back this year. He is on thin ice with the disciplinary committee and a skilled player who isn't on the field isn't much use. Old Glory is a professional setup, and it would be hard to blame them if they'd decided to move on. That's especially true given how ably Luke Campbell stepped into the starting lineup last year - Fa'anana-Schultz is going to have to earn back his spot. Spend too long out and the team will move on.
I really really hope we can see Fa'anana-Schultz get things under control this year. He has so much potential and is a fundamentally nice person. He has work to do to figure himself out, and hopefully he can do so sooner rather than later.
Curious who has been signed and who is leaving? Check out our 2023 Signings Tracker for all the updates!