Former Utes football player is back on U.S. rugby national team

Published: Friday, June 20 2014 12:55 p.m. MDT

Updated: Sunday, June 22 2014 7:40 p.m. MDT

From right, Utah defensive end Thretton Palamo (22) and Utah defensive end Trevor Reilly (9) tackle Colorado running back Michael Adkins II (19) as he falls over Colorado offensive linesman Gus Handler (55) during the second half of a football game at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Utah won 24-17.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Thretton Palamo has returned to rugby and will get his first taste of international rugby on Saturday in the Pacific Nations Cup since ending his football career.

The former Utes running back, defensive end and special teams player and son of Samoan international star Arona Palamo told USARugby.org's Chad Wise that he is happy to be back playing the game he grew up watching — the game that's "fun for me."

“I realized toward the end of my football career I kept comparing everything to rugby, how this would be cooler if this was in a rugby setting,” Palamo said. “So then I just decided I’d rather play rugby. It’s also been in my family for so long, so I don’t think I had a chance playing football.”

A natural athlete, Palamo played basketball and football at Davis (Calif.) High, before becoming a member of the USA Rugby Eagles national team. At age 19, he was the youngest player to ever appear in a World Cup match in 2007.

The Eagles are playing their second and final game of the Pacific Nations Cup, hosting Canada in Sacramento's Bonney Field. He did not play in the U.S.'s 37-29 loss to Japan last week. BYU captain Kyle Sumsion is listed among the eight reserves available for the game against the Canadians.

The game will be broadcast on Universal Sports at 4 p.m. MDT.

You can read the entire story at USARugby.org.

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