Local trio commit with Gillard & McGehan elevated, MacAskill re-signed

Sun, Feb 11, 2024, 11:55 PM
by Ben Somerford

The Western Force are delighted to confirm the elevation of Academy products Rosie McGehan and Zoe Gillard to full Super W contracts for the 2024 season, alongside the re-signing of 2022 Rising Star Keira MacAskill.

Talented outside back McGehan, who turned 19 last month, scored with a pick and go in Kalamunda’s 2023 Fortescue Premier Grade Grand Final win over Wanneroo, taking her season tries tally to 7. The Academy graduate is a player of Wallaroos’ interest having been named in Rugby Australia’s 40-player Super W Youth Camp last year.

Fellow outside back Gillard, 22, was part of the Force’s inaugural Academy squad alongside McGehan and played full-back for Wanneroo last season, scoring six tries. Gillard, who is carving a career in the maritime construction industry, previously spent time in WA’s AFLW Academy while prior to that she was in RugbyWA’s Youth Girls’ Sevens team in 2018.

Aranmore graduate MacAskill is a 19-year-old back-rower who enjoyed a breakout 2022 season despite still being at high school, debuting in Round 2 and winning the club’s Debby Hodgkinson Rising Star award that season. MacAskill, who played WA State Under-18’s touch rugby in 2019, has made seven Super W appearances for the Force.

Force head coach Dylan Parsons said: “It’s fantastic for our Club to see both Rosie and Zoe graduate out of our inaugural Academy program to earn their first full contracts. They both are a great example for the next generation of players in this state.

“Rosie is someone with great potential and she’s already been identified as a player of national interest by Rugby Australia. She adds something different, where she’s dynamic, tall, rangy but also has great skills and vision.

“She’s not yet 20-years-old, so she will keep developing for the future. She’s a player who we want to be at this club for a long time.

“Zoe is another good news story, graduating out of the Academy into her first full contract. She’s come from a different code and has really stepped up her learning of the game.

“She brings a really good work ethic plus excellent professionalism around how she prepares, how she looks at footage and analysis. She’s growing in confidence every year. We’re thrilled to offer her a contract as we see her as part of this squad for years to come.

“Keira is one of our local girls who has a well-rounded skill set but also a point of difference around her ball carry. She has huge potential. It’s our goal to unlock that potential.

“She’s still really young in age but not in rugby experience. We’re really excited to see how far she can get.”

The Force open their Super W campaign on Friday March 15 from 4:30pm against the Melbourne Rebels at HBF Park.

Prior to that, the Force women will face Japanese club Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix in two pre-season trial games from Friday 23 February from 4:30pm prior to the Force men’s Super Rugby season opener at HBF Park. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.

2024 Western Force Super W squad: Zoe Gillard, Haylee Hifo, Sheree Hume, Tamika Jones, Natsuki Kashiwagi, Saelua Leaula, Nicole Ledington, Michaela Leonard, Keira MacAskill, Rosie McGehan, Hera-Barb Malcolm Heke, Hinata Komaki, Alapeta Ngauamo, Hannah Palelei, Trilleen Pomare, Anneka Stephens, Pia Tapsell, Harono Te Iringa, Brooklyn Teki-Joyce, Alanis Toia, Braxton Walker, Aiysha Wigley, Samantha Wood - Seneti Kilisimasi, Siutiti Ma’ake (PacificAus Sports scholarships)