RugbyWA’s Academy Aligns with Western Force Academy for 2024

Thu, Feb 29, 2024, 1:45 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

RugbyWA’s Academy has aligned its program with the Western Force Academy to strengthen and further develop Academy players throughout their 2023-24 season. 


The RugbyWA Academy was established to enable our players and coaches to reach their true potential as individuals and as teams. The program provides players with greater insight into the behaviours and standards that are required to pursue the dream of playing rugby on a professional level. 


The new program sees the RugbyWA Academy aligning with the Western Force Academy, integrating training sessions to build upon long-term player and coach development. The program now runs from November through to June, allowing for a program which has the Western Force’s six pillars - tactical, technical, strength and conditioning, mental skills, personal development, and nutrition – interwoven into all aspects of development. 


RugbyWA’s General Manager of Rugby, Dane Lazarus, says the change in structure has provided the young players with a new opportunity to test themselves. 

“Integrating our sessions with the Western Force on a Monday night has been outstanding.  

“Our players can see the next stage of their development, work alongside the WF academy players and help fast track their skill development, and professional development in this environment.” 


Chris Goodman, the General Manager of Academy for the Western Force, reflected that the opportunity to align the academies just makes sense. 

“It’s a logical progression of the last couple of years to give not only players, but coaches, physios, and managers, the succession, planning or opportunities to move forward and build that depth within our organisation.” 


The opportunity was a big change from previous years and encouraged players to adapt quickly to a new environment.  

“Our boys were really in shock when they first integrated into the sessions,” Lazarus said. 

“It was very fast, high skills, high communication, and they had to learn how to involve themselves. It was a steep learning curve for them.  

“Right now, they are integrating into the sessions, and it's becoming a very cohesive unit. Both academies are working closely together. The players are stepping up from our academy into that environment with a seamless transition.” 


The new formatting for the academy was instituted to strengthen the rugby community in WA and boost local talent in the professional game. 

“The big work here is getting the right people into Western Force, into RugbyWA,” Lazarus said. 

“We want to make sure that the people are developed, show the right attributes, live our values, respect, teamwork and excellence. And then when it comes to the integration on field, we can get better alignment of coaching strategies, skill development, and that will all benefit the Western Force in the long run. 

“We want to work on player cohesion, building combinations, and making sure that the Western Force team in years to come has local talent representing it.” 


For more information about the RugbyWA Academy, visit 


2024 Academy Squad 

Tom Crofts (Scrum Half) - Wanneroo 

Tama Tunui (Scrum Half) - Wanneroo 

Felix Cooper (Backrower) - Trinity College, Wests Scarborough 

Deacan Seve (Backrower) - Wests Scarborough 

Cassius Dougal (Backrower) - Aranmore Catholic College, Nedlands  

Gideon Weleilakeba (Backrower) - Southern Lions 

Brennan Leef (Hooker) - Southern Lions 

Luke Megson (Hooker) - Scotch College 

Zavier Hawira (Tighthead Prop) - Palymra 

Zane Wesley (Tighthead Prop) - Wanneroo 

Ruiz Lee (Loosehead Prop) - Joondalup Brothers 

Brodie Mainwaring (Flyhalf) - Wanneroo 

Peni Naqua (Centre) - Southern Lions 

Chase Bunce (Centre) - Nedlands 

Paddy Woods (Lock) - Cottesloe 


2024 Academy Staff 

Chris Heiberg (Head Coach) 

Damien Elton (Coach) 

Rodney Hearfield (Coach) 

Gavin Laycock (Coach) 

Ian MacNeil (Strength and Conditioning) 

Shane Troy (Physiotherapist)