Introducing: Brad Tucker
Photo: Carly MacKinnon.
Seattle Seawolves forward Brad Tucker is a little shy.
When it’s time for interviews, he sends teammate Eric Duechle out first. He’s a smiley guy that giggles in between answers. The 6-foot-5, 253-pound second-rower is also one of the best players in Major League Rugby.
“Just watching him, I’ve learned a lot,” Duechle said of his teammate. “To see a lock, six doing these offloads, just things that usually see backs doing, he can do it.”
He’s a renaissance man.
The 26-year-old is dangerous with ball in hand. He’s missed just three tackles, and made 64, in his last four matches. On top of all that, he’s a workhorse. Tucker has logged a full 80 minutes in all four of those matches, picking up three tries in the process.
Tucker is a guy you want on your team. He’s a guy the Seawolves are happy to have on their team as they attempt to defend the championship shield.
“Brad brings a lot of experience,” wing Brock Staller said of Tucker. “He’s got a big rugby background being from New Zealand. It’s a good, calm head, especially to have in the lineouts. He a good, strong ball carrier and he’s a great guy on and off the field.”
A native of Canterbury, New Zealand, Tucker’s used the skill and experience he gained back home to hit the ground running in his first season in the MLR. After starting his career with Waikato, he moved to Taranaki and then again to Manawatu before making his way up to the Pacific Northwest to link up with the defending champion Seawolves.
“It started back in New Zealand,” Tucker explained. “I was playing rugby in Christchurch. I got a bit of an opportunity with Waikato. I moved out there for a Mitre 10 and spent a few seasons bouncing around. I played with Taranaki and Manawatu and ended up here now.”
It’s the players like Tucker that help set the foundation for a league that’s growing before our eyes. When presented with an opportunity to be a part of something new, he was excited to come check things out.
“It’s quite an interesting one to be a part of,” Tucker said. “It’s definitely getting better every week. We played one of the top teams Week 1, both of us were a bit scratchy, and now it seems whoever you come up against is a tough game. It’s good. Obviously, coming from a professional country like New Zealand in terms of rugby, I sort of knew it wouldn’t be quite there yet. But it’s awesome to see the teams taking steps to get there. Some of the facilities are unreal. Obviously, the crowds and stuff here is what blew my mind.”
Dan Power said on Episode 30 of the MLR Kickoff podcast that he believed the Tucker’s name should receive consideration for signing of the year and it’s hard to argue with him. Picking up any player that has been as reliable as Tucker has been through 11 matches is a large part of the reason that Seattle finds themselves sitting in a playoff spot with 41 points and an 8-3 record ahead of Week 14.
It would seem to be that the Seawolves go as Tucker goes, but he’s pulled his weight in three of the team’s losses as well. According to Tucker, those early season slip-ups are just the cost of doing business.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start, but I think that’s part of trying to defend your title and having a lot of new faces around, a new coach, and all that stuff,” Tucker explained. “For me, I was a bit slow at the start fitting in with the guys and figuring out how they run plays, but I feel like I’m starting to play pretty consistently which is good.”
That consistency is represented in the try, the 133 meters gained on 24 carries and 33 tackles without a miss that he has recorded in the Seawolves’ last two matches.
Tucker isn’t that consistent by accident. He not only works on his game physically but mentally as well. One of the ways he gets his mind right before a match is by utilizing a simple notecard.
“Before the games, he writes down what he wants to do in the game and who he’s doing it for,” Duechle said.
“It definitely started playing in New Zealand when I was down next to an All Black for a game,” Tucker explained. “We were playing a Mitre Cup game and I just saw him doing it. I thought, ‘I’m a bit consistent as a performer. What can I do to be more consistent?’ I guess I just started doing that. I don’t write much down. Just a few key points to focus on for the team and a few for myself.”
According to Duechle, the only time he’s seen the message on the notecard that Tucker writes before a match change is after the tragic Christchurch mosque shootings that took place on March 15 and claimed the lives of 50 innocent people and injured 50 more.
“Usually he writes about rugby but that was the first time that he wrote about his family. That was just really cool. He dedicated that game and had a great game and it made me really want to start doing the same thing, so I started copying him.”
“At that time, it was definitely more family based and thinking about home,” Tucker said. “It sort of gives you a bit more motivation.”
Duechle wasn’t kidding. Tucker stuffed the stat sheet in the 29-17 victory the Seawolves grabbed over Austin Elite Rugby on March 16. He tied eight-man Riekert Hattingh with 15 carries in the match, gobbling up 85 meters, two tackle breaks and producing a try in the process. That was all on top of the six tackles he made and the lineout he stole from Austin.
Tucker would’ve had a reasonable excuse to have a down game. A tragedy like that that takes place anywhere has the potential to rattle someone to their core. Even on the heels of something so horrible, Tucker had no troubles getting ready to play Austin because he knew rugby was one of the things that would make him feel better.
“It definitely wasn’t hard to get up for it. Coming from New Zealand, I think that’s our getaway. Rugby is a way that you can give it back to the people.”
He’s a tough man to rattle, and the Seawolves should be thanking their lucky stars that they ended up with him on their team.
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