The number of USA international rugby players plying their trade as professionals continues to grow. The latest player to sign is USA Sevens players and Eagles outside centre Israel Niua. Subject to a visa and a medical the twenty-nine year old back will play the remainder of the season for the Glasgow Warriors in the Rabo Direct Pro 12, replacing injured Puma Gabriel Ascárate.
The Glasgow Warriors made the announcement earlier today, thus confirming what had been rumoured over the weekend. Folau will be a rare breed as a USA Eagle playing in Scotland and, indeed, also in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. Of the players involved in the European tour last November Niua is to be the only one playing in the league. His international professional teammates are mainly based in England but some also play in France and Todd Clever does so in Japan.
Niua made his debut for the USA Eagles in 2013 as a replacement against Canada in the Rugby World Cup qualification matches in Charleston and Toronto. He impressed to subsequently be included in the November squad and earned test started at outside centre against Georgia and Russia - playing outside Andrew Suniula. With Glasgow well placed in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 Folau Niua will be set to be training and, likely, playing in an ideal environment to take his career to the next level. He has the opportunity of establishing himself as a regular in time to be selected for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Niua was born in Palo Alto, California in the Bay Area and has played for one of the most notable clubs in the USA - San Francisco Golden Gate. The club produced a number of international players including Mike MacDonald, Samu Manoa and Shawn Pittman. His move to Scotland is his second professional contract after he had signed with USA Rugby in January 2012.