Jake Ilnicki, experienced Canadian international and stalwart of the Seattle Seawolves since 2019, will be joining Old Glory DC for their 2022 campaign. As a tighthead prop, he will likely be replacing Steven Longwell in the starting number 3 jersey.
The 29-year-old has played professionally since 2014, when he played for the NSW Country Eagles in Australia’s National Rugby Championship. He then played for the San Diego Breakers in the short-lived PRO rugby league, before heading to Manawafu in the NPC in New Zealand. After one season, he was picked up by the Northampton Saints in the Premiership in England. He was then moved to the Newcastle Falcons in the same competition. In 2019, he signed with the Seattle Seawolves, and has played with them for the last three seasons.
Internationally, Ilnicki has been a fixture of Canada’s national team since his debut in 2013. He has appeared 42 times for the team, including in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He has the second-most caps of any active Canadian player, tied with Lucas Rumball.
Ilnicki’s signing fills another big hole in the Old Glory roster. With the departure of Longwell, it wasn’t clear who would take the starting spot at tighthead prop. Lopresti was the go-to backup last year, but his performance at scrum-time was shaky at best. Jack Carroll and Will Vakalahi are expected to return as well, but Carroll saw only limited time last year and Vakalahi has been injured since late 2020.
Given that context, it’s great to see the coaches bring in someone with the experience and reliability of Ilnicki. He is a reliable scrummager and a decent ball carrier, and should complement the front-line well. I’m expecting him to be a key part of the team next year, likely starting most, if not all, matches that he is healthy for. This is an excellent pick up for Old Glory.
Curious who has been signed and who is leaving? Check out our 2022 Signings Tracker for all the updates!