Starting center William Talataina will be returning to DC for the 2023 season. The 27-year-old New Zealander was a constant in the lineup and became a key part of Old Glory's dynamic late-season attack. Although he mostly stayed out of the national spotlight, Talataina is a hugely productive player who should contribute significantly next season.
Signed from Auckland last year, Talataina immediately became a core part of the team, starting every single match and playing 1280 minutes, which is literally every possible minute in the season and a record at Old Glory. He racked up some good stats as well, carrying 94 times for 889 meters for an average of almost 10 meters gained per carry. He also beat 20 defenders and had 7 clean breaks, which set up his 8 tries and 49 total points. For the most part, Talataina played in the centers, usually outside center but occasionally moving up to inside center. However, his solid play and wide-ranging skillset also saw him used at flyhalf and on the wing.
Talataina's game has always been reliable, but at the start of last season it didn't seem like he knew what his role was on team. He seemed a little too passive on attack, mostly focusing on facilitating those around him. However, as the season wore on and the loses started mounting, he became much more aggressive and became a real creator of momentum on the team. By the end of the season, I was of the strong opinion that he was being overlooked as one of the best centers in the league.
He will be an essential part of the new team going forward. He is an amazingly well-rounded player, with good tackling and defensive awareness, strong running, reliable passing, and a kicking game to boot. He isn't quite as flashy as some of the other players on the team, but he raises the level of the entire team.
Curious who has been signed and who is leaving? Check out our 2023 Signings Tracker for all the updates!