2017 Team Preview: WESTERN FORCE

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After showing some promising signs in 2016 and securing a number of key signings, the Force are shaping as a potential surprise package this season.

Home: nib Stadium
Last Season: 16th

Squad:

Adam Coleman, Anaru Rangi, Angus Cottrell, Ben Daley, Ben Matwijow, Ben McCalman, Brynard Stander, Francois van Wyk, Harry Scoble, Heath Tessmann, Isi Naisarani, Jermaine Ainsley, Kane Koteka, Matt Hodgson, Matt Philip, Pek Cowan, Richard Arnold, Richard Hardwick, Ross Haylett-Petty, Shambeckler Vui, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tetera Faulkner, Alex Newsome, Bill Meakes, Chance Peni, Curtis Rona, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ian Prior, Jono Lance, Luke Burton, Luke Morahan, Marcel Brache, Michael Ruru, Peter Grant, Robbie Coleman, Ryan Louwrens, Semise Masirewa.

Game breaker:
It’s shaping as a big year for tight-loose forward utility Ben McCalman. He’s been given the on-field captaincy of the side in a year in which he should cross the 100-game hurdle in Super Rugby. He starts on 91 games while if able to regain Test selection he stands to achieve 50 Tests, he’s one short on 49. But it is the prospect of working off what could be an impressive Force front five that could provide most stimulus for his play. Should that happen the powerful McCalman could have a big influence in his side’s fortunes.Key signing:

Wallabies second-string hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was a key signing for the side and should help the Force develop a first-class scrum with support from Pek Cowan, Ben Daley, Tetera Faulkner, Heath Tessmann and the emerging Shambeckler Vui to give strength and experience to the front row. With 140 Investec Super Rugby performances and 68 Test matches Polota-Nau has plenty to offer the side.

Young gun
Nineteen-year-old prop Shambeckler Vui is expected to make an impact during the season at tighthead for the Force. He was a key player for the Australian Under-20s at last year’s Junior World Championship and impressed for the Perth Spirit in the Australian national rugby championship. As well as attending to front row duties, Vui also has an impressive turn of speed, highlighted in a 50m run to score at the Junior Worlds. Originally from New South Wales he played for Australian Schoolboys in 2014.

The Scoop
Under new coach Dave Wessels, who has had time at the Brumbies, the Perth-based side have recruited well and are clearly in a rebuilding phase as they attempt to secure their place on the Australian scene. With more players featuring in international play, like tight-loose forward Ben McCalman, lock Adam Coleman, wing Dane Haylett-Petty, fullback Luke Morahan, first five-eighths Jono Lance, there is also the signing of Polota-Nau and also the Brumbies fullback Robbie Coleman, fitting in with long-serving flanker Matt Hodgson, to suggest a more competitive combination this year.


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