ROYAL Navy players Seti Raumakita and Jarrad Hayler are set to pull on Plymouth Albion shirts for this first time this weekend when the club travel to Jersey for their opening pre-season match.
The back-row duo, who were part of the Navy squad that played the Army at Twickenham in May, have been training with Albion all summer.
Both are Plymouth-based Royal Marines. Fijian Raumakita, 27, is stationed at Stonehouse, while 20-year-old Hayler is at Bickleigh.
Although they have the International Defence Competition coming up in October, Raumakita and Hayler would like to progress their rugby careers with Albion in National One.
“It would be really good to get involved here,” said Raumakita.
“Pre-season has been really good. There’s a good bunch of boys here and it’s been a pleasure to be at Albion.”
Raumakita has turned out for Plymouth Argaum and Devonport Services in the past, but playing for the Royal Navy has made him realise he could possibly play at a higher level.
Former Premiership winger Josh Drauniniu, who was playing for Devonport High School Old Boys before going on to play for Exeter, Harlequins and Worcester, recommended Raumakita to Albion, as did fellow Navy man Gareth Evans.
Evans was the last Royal Navy player to turn out for Albion and Raumakita admits the current Okehampton coach is someone to look up to.
“Gaz is like one of the idols and he has been helping me a lot,” said Raumakita.
He added: “I started off playing with Plymouth Argaum because I was based at 42 (Bickleigh). Then I came down to Devonport Services and got into the navy under-23s and then the navy senior team. Now I’m here.
“I have played some very competitive games for the navy. They try to play some Premiership and Championship sides and it is good experience.”
Raumakita certainly offers versatility. He can play in the back-row or in the backs.
He said: “I am a back-rower, but they have been moving me around a bit. They want me to play on the wing and at centre as well as back-row, but I’m happy as long as I’m on the field.”
Hayler, who only turned 20 in March, has been playing London One rugby with Havant. He previously played for the London and South East England under-18 representative team and through that spent three months playing in Western Province in South Africa before joining the Royal Marines.
“I want to push my rugby career as far as it will go, alongside playing for the Navy,” said open-side flanker Hayler, who earned his first Royal Navy cap as a replacement at Twickenham in May.
“I’ve just got to bring something to the party and try and impress Graham this weekend. I’ve got to show him what I can do on the pitch and on the ball.”
If Hayler and Raumakita did sign for Albion then they would probably miss the whole of October and possibly the last part of September due to International Defence Competition, which happens every four years and runs alongside the World Cup.
The competition starts on October 8 and goes through to October 29, with the final taking place at Twickenham Stoop. The Royal Navy are in a pool with Fiji, New Zealand and Japan.