RugbyWA Senior Academy players on the rise in 2020

by Rugby WA Media

RugbyWA Senior Academy players Jackson Pugh, Ollie Callan and Grason Makara have gained the attention of Western Force head coach Tim Sampson in the current Western Force NRC squad, while former Senior Academy players Carlo Tizzano and Michael McDonald are set to make their mark for the NSW Waratahs in the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Even though they missed the first game against Queensland Country both Jackson Pugh and Ollie Callan have lifted the eyebrows of Force coach Tim Sampson performing well in both Force training's and club games leading into the tournament.

Makara only aged 18 came on for the Force last weekend coming off the bench in an unlikely position placed at the side of the scrum.

Normally playing in the outside centre position Makara held his own against professional talent making his presence felt after replacing crowd favorite Brynard Stander.

Throughout this year’s Rapid Rugby games, the RugbyWA trio have had a number of appearances with the side coming on against the Mayalsia Valke as well as appearing against Tonga in a World Cup trial match.

With a number of spots opening in the Western Force roster expect big things in the coming weeks for these players as they get ready to take a step to the next level.

After their time in the RugbyWA Senior Academy system prospects Michael McDonald and Carlo Tizzano also spent time within the Western Force squad before it was announced at the start of this week they have both signed multi-year deals with super rugby side NSW Waratahs.

McDonald and Tizzano represented WA in the RugbyWA U19s side as well as moving up the ranks into the Junior Wallabies squad.

Both coming through the WA club ranks the pair started in RugbyWA Senior Academy in 2018 under the mentorship of High-Performance Head Coach Steve Anderson.

McDonald a member of Palmyra Rugby Club for many years coming from their junior program and was recently involved in the sides 2019 Championship Division win.

The halfback also steered the Junior Wallabies to the final of the Under 20s World Championship, now being selected by NSW will have to fill the gap left by the departed veteran Nick Phipps and will join Jake Gordon in the Waratahs' no.9 roster.

McDonald will spend this year’s NRC competition with the NSW Country team and is likely to get his debut this week against the Melbourne Rising. 

Tizzano, 19, has spent his entire club career with UWA Rugby Club and has currently earned the starting no. 7 spot in the Western Force’s NRC side.

Winning the 2018 P.G. Hampshire Award for best and fairest Fortescue Premier Grade player Tizzano went on tour to Ireland and Scotland last year with the Australian Schools and Under 18s side.

Following a stellar 2018 season Tizzano opened 2019 by joining McDonald in the Junior Wallabies run in the World U20s Championship.

Tizzano will replace Will Miller, who has gone to the Brumbies, and now has the opportunity to learn under Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

While McDonald will play over east in this year’s NRC competition Tizzano has committed to the Force until the end of the tournament.

Michael McDonald has been named as scrumhalf and captain for the Junior Wallabies' clash against Fiji. Photo: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley

RugbyWA CEO Bob Hunter said while it is a shame seeing WA players head east it is a great opportunity for their development and the RugbyWA Senior Academy is committed to boost the Western Force ranks during next year’s Global Rapid Rugby Competition.

“Both Michael and Carlo’s signing is a great opportunity for those two players, their hard work and effort within RugbyWA’s senior academy program and the Western Force is a testament to how far they have come as athletes and as individuals.”

“Steve Anderson our head coach of high performance must be commended for the tireless efforts he has put into our players and the program, the number of professional contracts coming out of WA is outstanding and Steve has played a massive role in achieving those goals.”

“While it is good to see our players getting signed outer state and abroad the RugbyWA Senior Academy together with the Future Force Foundation is working to keep our main focus on feeding the Western Force program and it’s campaign in the NRC and Global Rapid Rugby competitions.”

“With a number of academy players entering this year’s (NRC) squad the outlook for next year’s inaugural Rapid Rugby season is certainly looking positive for our Senior Academy athletes.”

The Western Force have also announced that 14 players have re-signed for Global Rapid Rugby’s inaugural 2020 season.

Within the squad will be a number of returning Western Australian players including Cottesloe’s Nick Jooste, Wests Scarborough pair AJ Alatimu and Brad Lacey as well as Nedlands prodigy Tevin Ferris.

Western Force head coach Tim Sampson is confident with the squad he is put together and while the NRC title is their prime focus, they are looking forward to a very exciting GRR season.

“I am thrilled that we will be able to keep the core of our group together,” Sampson said.

“The names we are able to announce today are all terrific young men and I am super confident that they will continue to build on the hard work of the last two seasons and the job we have just embarked on in the NRC competition.”

Also, around the grounds Force no. 10 Andrew Deegan and former Force no.9 Ryan Louwrens have signed with the Melbourne Rebels.

Louwrens originally with Cottesloe Rugby Club has returned to Australia from Japan where he was playing for the Kinetsu Liners while Deegan had a number of stints with the Wanneroo premier grade side while under contract with the Force.




The next Western Force home game is against the Melbourne Rising at UWA Sports Park on Sunday, September 15 Kick-Off at 3:00pm .

RugbyWA would like to recognized the Future Force program for its ongoing contribution towards RugbyWA Senior Academy program and the RugbyWA state representative sides.