E.J. Kuale will make no apologies for how he plays the game. Not to opponents, not to coaches or those in Canadian Football League headquarters who have nicked his paycheque for violent hits.
"That's a big part of my game. Hitting is a part of a game," said the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new middle linebacker during a phone interview from Daytona, Fla., on Tuesday. "Any time I make contact I want that person to remember me, whether it's my number, my name or they just remember my body type.
"You're going to go to know that if you come anywhere close to me, it's going to hurt. No question there."
Buck Pierce can certainly attest to that. Remember, it was back in 2011 when Toronto's Kuale lit up the then-Bomber quarterback/now running backs coach with a vicious shot that got him ejected and fined an undisclosed amount by the league.
"That was an unfortunate situation that I got ejected," Kuale said. "But that's how I've been hitting my whole life. I learned to hit that way. Nothing's going to change. I'm glad me and Buck are on the same sideline now and I can get to know him, because I had the utmost respect for him when I was playing against him.
"I admire his style of play: hard-nosed and reckless. I feel that's how I play."
Kuale, a 6-2, 229-pound product of Louisiana State University, appeared in the three games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders late last season following his release by the Montreal Alouettes. A five-year veteran, Kuale began his CFL career with Toronto after originally signing with Calgary. He spent three years with the Argos, helping them win the 2012 Grey Cup.
His addition gives the Bombers a veteran presence in the middle of their defence, one that was left with a gaping hole after the departure of Henoc Muamba to the Indianapolis Colts. The club also released both Terrell Parker and Gerald McRath in the last couple of weeks, both of whom might have been seen as middle linebacker candidates.
"My agent has been talking with (Bombers GM Kyle Walters) for a couple of weeks and now I'm a Bomber," said Kuale. "I'm excited. Coach (Mike) O'Shea is a really good coach and I'm happy for him because he deserves this. I'm also excited to see what he brings to the table as a head coach because he was beyond what any player could ask for when he was the special teams coach in Toronto. I'm ecstatic and eager to learn from him.
"It was unfortunate, the situation in Saskatchewan. They signed me to play (middle linebacker), but the position was switched to Canadian and that's why I was released. It's a business and I understand that. I was looking for a job and I'm fortunate I ended up with a very good coach that I'm familiar with. I can't wait to be a part of the turnaround there."