‘I have to play a bigger role,’ SaberCats’ Dominic Akina hits 50 Cap milestone

Apr 25, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Responsibility beckons for Dominic Akina in ways beyond his role as a husband and father for his family.
As a center for the 6-1 SaberCats, Akina is counted on for teamwork, power, speed and skill as well as his ability to talk with his teammates.
“With another year added to my experience, I have to play a bigger role in communication with the forwards,” Akina said. “Being in that position and knowing their roles, I’ve got to communicate a lot more.”
In his fourth season of Major League Rugby and second with the SaberCats, Akina is a key figure for the returning playoff squad.
He’s athletic and has a versatile sports background.
Akina has played all over the field for the SaberCats in reaching the prestigious 50th Cap milestone playing multiple positions, including forward and center.
“I like both, honestly,” Akina said. “For me, I’ve got to get that contact going. For me, for the game, it’s a physical game. It’s hard. We’ve got to set the tone early. As forwards, we really pride ourselves on the physicality.”
Akina has the size and speed of an NFL safety at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds with an eye-catching 41-inch vertical leap.
“Individually, I like to bring that power and speed to the team,” Akina said. “I think that really helps. I finally got to start the game and having time inside and outside the backs really helped me develop my game as well.”
And Akina, a former Western Oregon rugby and football player who played previously for the Austin Herd squad, is utilizing those tools.
Noticed by the Herd at a Major League Rugby combine, Akina played rugby and football in college and high school. He was a three-time Rugby Club Most Valuable Player.
Akina grew up in Hawaii before moving to Oregon and playing football, including safety, corner and linebacker, and track in high school. He has also played for the Williamette Sharks Rugby Club, which is affiliated with the International Rugby Institute in South Africa.
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Akina has a distinct style of play built around his skills having played the sport now for several years and continuing to develop as a rugby player.
“For me, I like to obviously learn new things from all of our experienced guys,” Akina said. “I take something from them and build on my game and just build and learn and soak it all in as we go this season.”
Akina and the SaberCats have set their ambitions high after reaching the playoffs each of the past two seasons and winning a franchise-record 10 matches last season.
“We hold ourselves to high expectations,” Akina said. “We want to be champions and we have to practice like champions and have a championship mindset. As we say, we want to win the day.”