The 2019 Western Force National Rugby Championship squad will feature the best talent from WA club rugby combined with seasoned Global Rapid Rugby professionals.
Led by Head Coach Tim Sampson, the Force, who lost to Queensland Country in the semis last year, has named 14 additions in its 41-man squad.
Making his return to Australian professional rugby, former Force back Chris Tuatara-Morrison will be looking to impress after three years between French Top 14 League team Brive and Pro D2 team Colomier. Tuatara-Morison played with the men in blue from 2013-2014 before moving to France.
Amongst those who have stood out in the Fortescue Premier Grade competition and successfully pushed their case for NRC selection is this year’s Fortescue’s (NEGU) Most Improved Player winner, Rory O’Sullivan, who played four Rapid Rugby games for the Force as injury cover for Ian Prior.
Playing from the bench in the Force’s last two matches, Prior will captain the team having fully recovered from a pectoral injury which kept him out for most of the Rapid Rugby season.
“This is what the Western Force is about. It’s about having and providing that pathway for national selection by playing through state representative teams,” Prior said.
“There is some really exciting talent here, lots of really good players that I think will fit in nicely.”
Eight members of the squad have been called up from the RugbyWA’s Fortescue Premier Grade competition set to jump straight across to NRC after the conclusion of grand finals last weekend.
Coming out of the RugbyWA competition includes Wests Scarborough pair Dom Hardman and Aisake Meo as well as Jack Bromley and Leon Feke from UWA.
The squad will also see RugbyWA Senior Academy members Ollie Callan, Jackson Pugh and Grason Makara called-up to the professional side they will join former Academy teammates Carlo Tizzano and Ben Grant who graduated into the Force at the end of 2018.
The Western Force will kick-off its campaign with a home game at UWA Sports Park against last year’s runners-up Queensland Country before flying to Fiji to take on the 2018 champions, Fijian Drua.
“It’s really exciting to take on the two Grand Finalists straight off the bat. Obviously, Queensland Country having lost in the semis to them last year, it’s good to get the opportunity to front up against them first. It will be a good measure as to where we are at,” Prior added.
“We love playing at home in front of our crowd and trying to ‘Fill the Hill’. It’s a tough place to travel and play for away teams, but a really good place for us. Hopefully, we can play some of our best rugby and get the biggest NRC crowds which we have had in the last few years.”
Recovering well from a long-term knee injury, Force front-rower Kieran Longbottom, was unavailable for selection.
Western Force 2019 NRC Squad
Aisake Meo*, Andrew Ready, Ben Grant, Brynard Stander, Cameron Orr, Carlo Tizzano, Chris Alcock, Chris Heiberg, Dominic Hardman*, Feleti Kaitu’u, Fergus Lee-Warner, Harrison Lloyd, Heath Tessmann, Henry Stowers, Jack Bromely*, Jackson Pugh*, Jeremy Thrush, Johan Bardoul, Markus Vanzati, Ollie Callan*, Tevin Ferris, Tom Sheminant.
AJ Alatimu, Andrew Deegan, Brad Lacey, Byron Ralston, Chris Tuatara-Morrison*, Grason Makara*, Halaufa Lavaka, Henry Taefu, Ian Prior, Issak Fines, Jack McGregor, Jake Strachan, Jonah Placid, Kiti Ratu, Leon Feke*, Marcel Brache, Nick Jooste, Pama Fou, Rory O’Sullivan*.
Force vs Qld Country
Saturday, August 31
All Western Force NRC games will be shown LIVE on Kayo Sports and RUGBY.com.au.