‘Pretty special, super grateful,’ SaberCats’ AJ Alatimu earns 50th MLR Cap

May 22, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

As the SaberCats’ leading scorer, AJ Alatimu has emerged as a key figure for the Western Conference division leaders.
He’s their leading scorer with 59 points, ranking seventh overall in Major League Rugby.
And the veteran fly half and center reached an important milestone recently.
Alatimu, in his first season with the 10-1 SaberCats after previously playing for the rival Seattle Seawolves, earned his 50th career cap.
“Oh, it’s pretty special,” Alatimu said after being honored by the team following a 23-22 victory over the Chicago Hounds. “I’m super grateful. Special thanks to Houston for the opportunity to play 50 matches. Special shoutout to my wife. She’s always been the backbone of my career. Hopefully, there’s another 50 ahead of me.”
Alatimu, 30, was acquired in a trade for Joe Taufete’e from the Seawolves in September.
Last season, Alatimu played 1,078 minutes and scored 107 points. He led Major League Rugby with 164 points and 67 goals kicked and 5,521 kicking meters in 2022.
“I bring experience,” Alatimu said. “We’ve got super skillful backs and forwards playing in the right areas. I see my role as helping out the young guys as well.”
A native of Apia, Samoa, Alatimu previously played for Perth Spirit, Brisbane City and Western Force.
He competed in the World Series Rugby competition. He was named to Samoa’s squad in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
As a center for the SaberCats, Alatimu provides a quarterback-point guard role in directing the attack.
“I think I bring experience and a help in controlling the forwards and just putting the team in the right areas,” Alatimu said. “Just being that calm guy who sets things up. It’s mainly my job on when to kick and when to run.”
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The SaberCats are off this week on their second bye, some well-deserved rest before a June 1 road match against the Nola Gold.
“Definitely, we’re taking each game as it comes,” Alatimu said. “We get a break, then we play Nola. Hopefully, we continue this good form we have and win some more games.”
The SaberCats have set their collective ambitions on earning the shield and winning a Major League Rugby championship.
“We have a lot more games left and hopefully we’re playing at the end,” Alatimu said. “Ten wins is huge. Obviously, we’ve had some good, tough games, but this shows we’re able to grind out wins.”