Fa’anana-Schultz Ready to Make His Mark on World Stage

By Evan Lappen

 

One of the most dangerous weapons for Old Glory DC is in the United Kingdom this week, representing the USA, and his name is Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz. Playing for his family in America and back home in Australia, the 6’2”, 250 lbs behemoth is ready and prepared to make his mark with the Eagles against England and Ireland in the next two weeks.

Jamason found out he was selected for the July international tests through a random message on social media. A friend reached out to congratulate him on Facebook, and his first reaction was one of surprise. Jama was sent the link to the announcement telling him and two of his Old Glory teammates made the team, and he was ecstatic.

This season’s hard work has paid off, and now he will test his mettle against the best in the world, starting at Twickenham Stadium in London on Sunday. Since growing up outside of Brisbane, Australia, Jama has come a long way from playing in Samoa, Japan, and the USA to now represent his country on the world stage.

This month’s tests aren’t Jama’s first stint with the Eagles. He earned his first cap back in 2019 when the USA played Canada in Glendale, Colo., and then started at No. 8 against Japan in Suva, Fiji two weeks later. The start was a fond memory for him, but in hindsight, Jama knows he may not have been ready at that point in his rugby career.

“It was great experience-wise, but for me, I don’t think I was ready for my first cap yet,” Jama said. “For my first start, I wasn’t really meant to play that game. Cam Dolan got injured, concussed, the week before that. So, I was thrown in on short notice to start that game. I was sort of all over the place. That’s rugby, that’s life.”

Since then, Jama has matured to become more consistent in all facets of his game. He makes better choices on the ball, is more disciplined, extremely fit, and is a playmaker for 80 minutes.

“I feel 100% more confident with the way I play now,” Jama indicated. “It comes from being on a team consistently where before I was bouncing around going from Japan to Houston and to the USA Eagles. It was three teams in one year so it was tough to have all these different plays on different teams.

“Being with Old Glory for over two years and building that chemistry with Mikey [Sosene-Feagai] and Chicken [Mike Dabulas] now has made me more confident with the players I’m going up against. Playing in the MLR, you are playing against all the other Eagles players you are fighting against… Now that I’ve played against those guys, I know I can play with the best.”

In his time in the MLR, Jama has developed a reputation as one of the most physical and dominating runners in the league and a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. Despite missing three games due to an unfortunate suspension, Jama is in the top 20 in the league in total carries with 108, is fifth on the team with 533 carry meters, has scored two tries, and is second on the team with 96 successful tackles.

USA Eagles head coach Gary Gold is excited for Jama to suit up in the red, white, and blue. “We know Jamason quite well from before… He’s an explosive ball carrier and what I’ve noticed this year is that his work rate has improved substantially. He’s got that big ball-carrying ability and is very good in collisions on defense and on attack. That is something we definitely need to match up against England. Ironically enough, he’s been very good on the floor as well so he’s added that extra string to his bow. That’s what you’re going to need to dominate the gain line against the teams of the caliber we’re going to play.”

Old Glory head coach Andrew Douglas echoed those thoughts saying, “He’s one of the best ball carriers in the MLR. He gets over the gain line and gets on the front foot pretty consistently, which he’s done here. Big, strong boy, a physical presence that can hurt people. They will need someone like Jama that will be prepared to go at them all day. Jama will play 80 minutes. He will carry the ball for 80 minutes and defend for 80 minutes. There aren’t many back rows that can do that these days. I can’t see him change that style of play over in England.”

Asked what he brings to the Eagles, Jama kept it simple: physicality and aggression. “Looking at some of the plays from our Zoom call meetings, I think I’ll definitely be one of the main ball carriers. That’s my strength so they will be using that to my strength… I like playing in a system where this is what you’re good at and you show the world what you can do.”

As said before, Jama’s main drive is making his family proud, whether it be for the ones back home or the Old Glory faithful in the DMV.

“For me, it always comes back to family,” Jama said. “That’s how I’ve come this far in my life, especially in my career as a person growing. It’s always family. Seeing them happy where I am… Seeing messages after the game always means the world to me. It’s always special to have that family support even if they are 24 hours away… It’s why I train, why I play. It’s for those guys. For Mom and Dad, family, cousins, grandparents, everyone back home. Every day, it’s what I think about when I play.”