Written by Joe Harvey #MLR2023 pic.twitter.com/7bkS6zaLrv
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 4, 2023
“In New York, we take a lot of pride in our name, the Ironworkers,” Geiger said, “and a lot of the similarities in rugby and being an Ironworker.
“A big part of that is handling adversity in general and the ups and flows of our jobs and what we do.
“Throughout the season, we have been hammered by injuries, and the core group of us have never wavered in doubt. It is not there.
“Positivity was high coming off that bye week. A great week of training, and we had a steep task against San Diego.
“We didn’t execute in many areas of the game, and we took the positives from it. You have got to have that honest, hard look in the mirror.
“It wasn’t good enough and not going to get us back paying for a Shield.
“Same thing with Dallas. We are on the opposite end of that, we did a lot of positive things, but we took an honest look, and there are tons of areas to improve our game.
“Having had those conversations, where we have to be better, we have to improve, especially going into this Atlanta week.”
DEFENDING A TITLE
The season after acquiring their MLR title, it has hardly been plain sailing for New York.
As mentioned by Geiger, a slew of injuries meant that the team had to adjust quickly, and that fluctuation of squad depth certainly influenced how their season has played out.
Currently, with a 7-7 record, the side coached by James Semple have dug deep at times to keep themselves in contention, their tighthead prop believing that the squad’s togetherness has been a key factor in keeping in the fight.
“I think the boys retained from last year’s squad kind of knew there was a target on our back, and that is not something we ran away from,” Geiger said.
“We wanted to face that head-on with a ‘challenge accepted’ mentality. I wouldn’t say by any means we put extra pressure on ourselves to get back there.
“Something I appreciate about New York is, yes, we want to go back and play for the Shield, but our care for one another in the squad is more important than the outcomes.
“There is a deep care for one another, but not only one another, one another’s families. We can’t do this without them.
“I think that care is a driving factor. That, in the end gets you playing for a Shield.”
While Old Glory DC is waiting in the Eliminator Round, and the New England Free Jacks in the Eastern Conference Final, Geiger’s mind is firmly on the here and now.
“We are there to put together our best brand of rugby and continue to step up our process each week and play to our full potential and put a full 80-minute performance together.
“I don’t believe New York has done that once this season. We have spurts of it here and there, but we can do a lot of positive things, but we have been pretty good at shooting ourselves in the foot.
“We are very processed going into this weekend and working to be better than we were last year.”
CONTINUING THE JOURNEY
Several weeks ago, Geiger was among 54 players named in the USA Men’s Eagles player pool by interim head coach and General Manager, Scott Lawrence.
For Geiger, it is an impressive achievement for plenty of reasons. Not taking up rugby until 2021, it has been a rocket ride to the top for the Colorado-born front-row.
A two-sport athlete at Concordia University, Nebraska, the 27-year-old played football and baseball before being attracted to rugby.
Starting off at hooker, Geiger soon moved across to prop, where he has certainly set about establishing himself as the Ironworkers’ first-choice tighthead.
“I have had some incredible mentors in New York,” Geiger said. “That definitely helped speed up my transition process into the sport.
“From day one, Dylan Fawsitt has been my best friend here, and we do almost anything together.
“He has so much passion and knowledge to give about the game; he has been a huge part of making my transition so fast.”
Already, Geiger has had his forays with international rugby. Last fall, he toured with his country to South Africa as preparations for the Rugby World Cup Qualification tournament in Dubai were in full swing, but he missed out on selection to the Middle East.
While there will have been a sense of dissatisfaction for Geiger in not making his Test debut then, this summer’s tour of Europe, where Romania, Portugal, and Georgia all lay in waiting, provides another opportunity to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
“I have come from American sports, and I couldn’t understand why more Americans aren’t all over this,” Geiger said of his introduction to rugby.
“I really got a sense of enjoyment out of it, and then they said there were opportunities to stick with it and play for the national team.
“I love my country. That is the dream; to represent the Stars and Stripes. I fully bought into it. Last season, they called me up to the South Africa camp, and that was the first big thing.
“It was awesome, where I wanted to be. Getting dropped for Dubai, being short of what you were working for, but sticking to it and getting back for another shot is still the dream.
“I couldn’t be more blessed for the opportunity. That is where I want to be and what I want to be doing.”
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