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Arrows Complete Trade with LA, Sign Kiwi Centre Tufuga

November 17, 2021 - Major League Rugby (MLR) - Toronto Arrows News Release

TORONTO, ON - The Toronto Arrows announced today that the organization has completed two transactions to bolster the team's roster ahead of the 2022 Major League Rugby season.

The club has acquired the rights to flanker James O'Neill, a third-round selection in the 2022 MLR Collegiate Draft, and salary cap considerations from Los Angeles in exchange for the rights to centre Ben LeSage.

The Arrows have also signed New Zealand centre Ueta Tufuga for the upcoming MLR campaign.

O'Neill, 23, was selected 26th overall in the 2021 MLR Collegiate Draft. The flanker is a graduate of the University of Victoria, where he notably captained his Vikes side to the Canadian University Men's Rugby Championship title 2019 alongside Arrows 2021 first-round draft pick Logan Martin-Feek.

The 6', 230lb breakdown specialist has featured for Canada at two World Rugby Under-20 Trophy tournaments, first as an under-ager in 2017, and again in 2018 with the captaincy role.

O'Neill is freshly off captaining the Pacific Pride in the British Columbia's Coastal Cup, where he helped lead the Rugby Canada national development academy side to a second-place finish (4-1-1 record) in the inaugural year of the competition. The native of Cochrane, Alta. played his grassroots rugby with the Calgary Canucks.

Tufuga, 23, joins the Arrows from New Zealand Heartland Championship side Wairarapa Bush, where the centre made 18 appearances and scored six tries across the Masterton-based club's 2019 and 2021 seasons.

The 6', 220lb back was part of National Provincial Championship side Southland Stags' wider training group in 2020, was longlisted for the All Blacks' 2018 World Rugby Under-20 Championship team, and spent time as an under-18 development athlete with Super Rugby side Hurricanes in 2015.

Tufuga has most recently featured for Massey University (Varsity) in the Manawatu Rugby club circuit.

LeSage spent his first two seasons in MLR with the Arrows, appearing in a total of 18 matches and scoring five tries.

"We thank Ben for his two years of service in trying circumstances and wish him well in the future," said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. "As we look ahead to 2022, we are excited to see what James and Ueta can bring to our team."

The Arrows have now signed 17 players ahead of the club's 2022 MLR campaign.

The club will be making additional signing announcements in the coming weeks as 2022 season preparations continue to build.

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