Warriors select four players in 2023 MLR draft
HERRIMAN, Utah (August 17, 2023) — The Utah Warriors have selected Josh Halladay, Michael Biagi, Abe Turpin and Isaia Kruse in the 2023 MLR Collegiate Draft.
Head Coach Greg Cooper expressed his enthusiasm about this year’s picks and rugby development in the US.
“As head coach of the Utah Warriors, I am delighted to welcome our four new Warriors from the 2023 collegiate draft,” said Cooper. “We are proud of the pathway we have provided for domestic players in the US to grow as players and people. We look forward to seeing these players develop and achieve their goals in the MLR.”
Three of the four picks participated in the Collegiate Rugby Shield at Zions Bank Stadium earlier this summer.
Josh Halladay — Round 2, Pick 19
The Warriors traded their first round pick to NOLA for additional 2024 salary cap, so Utah’s first pick of the draft came in the second round. With the 19th pick, Utah selected Josh Halladay (6’6”, 255) out of Trinity Western University in British Columbia. Halladay is a lock originally from White Rock, BC. He started playing rugby as a prop at Trinity Western with the university’s inaugural rugby team in 2019, and went on to captain the team. Before playing rugby, he played hockey and has a black belt in karate.
“Josh is a fierce competitor,” said Wayne Tarawhiti, the Warriors’ Director of Players and Pathway. “While he’s just started playing rugby, he has an appetite for the hard parts of the game: tacking, getting off the ground, and working for his teammates.”
Michael Biagi — Round 2, Pick 20
Michael Biagi (6’2”, 245) is a flanker out of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Biagi is originally from Burlingame, California, but attended Provo High School before enrolling at BYU. During his freshman year at BYU, he played football as an outside linebacker before joining the rugby squad. He earned a degree in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics. He played at Zions Bank Stadium earlier this summer as part of the Collegiate Rugby Shield.
“Mike is a local guy who’s played very well throughout his time at BYU,” said Tarawhiti. “He has a ton of potential and the work ethic to push in to the professional game.”
Abe Turpen — Round 2, Pick 22
Abe Turpen (6’0”, 230) is a flanker/hooker out of the University of Arizona. Originally from Boise, Idaho, Turpen grew up playing football and rugby as well as wrestling. He earned three state championships in wrestling and was an all-conference football player, but says that rugby is his passion. He also participated in the Collegiate Rugby Shield at Zions Bank Stadium earlier this summer, playing against new Warriors teammates Biagi and Kruse.
“Abe is a tough back-rower,” said Tarawhiti. “He performed very well at the CRS, and is as determined as they come.”
Isaia Kruse — Round 3, Pick 33
Isaia Kruse (5’10”, 200) is a wing out of Fresno State University. Brother of current Warriors player Mika Kruse, Isaia grew up in Fresno, California. In high school, he was selected to the USA U18 7s team for the 2018 Youth Olympics. He played several positions across the back line while at Fresno State, helping lead the team to their D1-AA National Championship in 2022. Following the 2023 season, he was nominated for the Rudy Scholz Award, which recognizes the best collegiate men’s rugby player. This summer, he played on a team with Biagi at the Collegiate Rugby Shield.
“Isaia has been a standout throughout his college career,” said Tarawhiti. “While he is from great rugby stock, he has carved his own path. He has the potential to make an impact in the MLR, and we hope to help him achieve that.”
Watch the Warriors and their newest squad members in action when they take the field in early 2024. Season tickets are on sale now, so secure your seats today by calling 801-477-7652. Stay on top of all things Utah Warriors by following the team’s social media or visiting warriorsrugby.com.
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