NRC Squad Announcement: Western Force
Photo: Western Force
The fifth instalment of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) gets underway in just under a fortnight. First cabs off the rank to announce their squads were the two Queensland-based sides, Brisbane City and Queensland Country. Next up it’s the Western Force.
Formerly Perth Spirit, the Force will attempt to pick up the baton from their successful predecessors, who contested two grand finals in the first four seasons of the competition, and lifted the NRC trophy in 2016. Coming in off the back of the successful World Series, and no doubt keen to prove a few people wrong after the team was controversially cut from Super Rugby last year, you wouldn’t back against a highly motivated Force outfit going pretty deep in this year’s competition once again.
Their cause will be helped by the return of local hero and former Force favourite Dane Haylett-Petty. The current Melbourne Rebel and Wallaby is thrilled to be coming back to his Perth roots, and helping Western Australian rugby continue its progress.
“I am really excited for the opportunity to play back in Perth in front of friends and family,” he said.
“Watching on from Melbourne, they’re doing great things growing the game and creating a pathway from community rugby through to professional level. I’m looking forward to getting back when I’m not involved with the Wallabies. It gives me a chance to stay involved with rugby in WA and give back in whatever capacity I can.”
It is a squad chock-full of talent and experience, with prop Kieran Longbottom, veteran hooker Heath Tessman, everywhere-man Chris Alcock, and recent Sevens specialist Marcel Brache continuing their journey with the ‘Sea of Blue’. Former Italian international lock Josh Furno adds plenty of starch to a forward pack looking to offer the platform from which Andrew Deegan – who shone in the recent Wallaby trial match – can continue to hone his highly promising craft.
Elsewhere, former Brisbane City player Maalonga Konelio has crossed the Nullarbor for another slice of NRC action, and he is joined by fellow team mates Brad Lacey and AJ Alatimu. And there are a number of other new recruits coming on board too, with plenty of international and overseas experience shared between George Pisi (Northampton Saints, UK & Samoa), Leon Power (Brumbies/Oyonnax, France), Harrison Orr (Gloucester, UK) and Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes/Gloucester & All Blacks).
The squad is also boosted by several star performers from the Pindan Premier League in the shape of Sheldon Tarawa (Joondalup), Lachlan Valentine (Associates), Benjamin Grant (Cottesloe), and UWA pair Carlo Tizzano and Jack Hardy.
The team will be skippered by scrumhalf/flyhalf Ian Prior, and begin their campaign with a trip to Hugh Courtney Oval, home of Queensland Premier league side Norths, to take on two-time champions Brisbane City on Sunday September 2nd at 2pm.
Video courtesy of Rugby AU
WESTERN FORCE 2018 SQUAD
Props: Chris Heiberg (Palmyra); Harrison Lloyd (Perth Bayswater); Kieran Longbottom (Coastal Cavaliers); Cameron Orr (ARKs); Tom Sheminant (Nedlands); Markus Vanzati (Coastal Cavaliers)
Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u (Wests Scarborough); Harry Scoble (UWA); Heath Tessman (Nedlands)
Locks: Benjamin Grant (Cottesloe); Josh Furno (Palmyra); Leon Power (Wanneroo Districts); Jeremy Thrush (Kalamunda Districts Rugby); Fergus-Lee Warner (Southern Lions); Lachlan Valentine (Associates)
Backrowers: Chris Alcock (UWA); Tevin Ferris (Nedlands); Harrison Orr (ARKs); Brynard Stander (Joondalup); Henry Stowers (Kalamunda Districts Rugby); Carlo Tizzano (UWA)
Scrumhalves: Issak Fines (Perth Bayswater); Ian Prior (Associates); Elliot Turner (ARKs)
Flyhalves: AJ Alatimu (Wests Scarborough); Andrew Deegan (Wanneroo Districts); Peter Grant (Cottesloe); Jack McGregor (Palmyra)
Centres: George Pisi (Southern Lions); Rodney Iona (Associates); Maalonga Konelio (Kalamunda Districts Rugby); Henry Taefu (Kalamunda Districts Rugby); Sheldon Tarawa (Joondalup)
Outside Backs: Marcel Brache Cottesloe); Masivesi Dakuwaqa (Southern Lions); Rod Davies (Wanneroo Districts); Jack Hardy (UWA); Dane Haylett-Petty (Melbourne Rebels); Brad Lacey (Wests Scarborough); Clay Uyen (Joondalup)