The Western Force and General Manager of Academy Chris Goodman is thrilled to announce the 21 players selected in this year's Fortescue Academy Program.
The squad is comprised of 12 homegrown West Australians, including the newest Force debutant Marley Pearce and eight talents from interstate.
"This squad of players is not complacent. They want to be better, and they genuinely care about their own development. We are really proud of these boys and their resilience to come to training week in, week out" Goodman attested.
“We want and have recruited guys that are hardworking, honest, that show integrity, and are willing to add value to the club and themselves. These key aspects add to our players on-field performance.”
“Looking at guys like Dane Sawers, who has come out of Kalamunda Club and Ryan McGloin coming out of Joondalup Brothers, these are guys that we want in our program long term. They add value to not only our team, but our club culture and to the community at large.
“I've said to the boys, if you're in this Academy, you're in here for a reason. You're not just making up numbers. We're trying to push further, be bigger, faster, stronger. We're trying to be better mentally, better with nutrition, personal organization, leadership, because that's ultimately what's going help contribute to the long-term success of this organization.”
Goodman is confident the Fortesue Academy program has holistically evolved into one of the best across the nation.
"The point of difference here is our program which is a holistic approach to development. Rugby is not who they are, it's not their entire identity. We want the players to be their authentic self, be proud of who they – we want to work hard, but we also get a lot of enjoyment out of doing so."
"Throughout the next three to four years, we aim to have guys coming through, pushing for positions. A prime example of this is Marley Pearce making his way into the top squad whilst in the Academy. We're trying to get our boys to do this at the moment: push the senior guys and add value."
With the progression Rugby WA is making at a club level, the Academy's focus begins in WA and then expands interstate, recruiting some of the best talents in rugby.
“We always fish in our own pond first. We look within WA first and aim to retain and give players the best opportunity to become Force players and Wallabies.”
“Outside of that, we then cast the net further and go over to the Eastern States, New Zealand, and the Islands. Here the aim is to find a good fit for the Force in terms of character and obviously, playing ability.”
"We talk about success breeding success. We have players like Doug Philipson and Justin Landman, two guys of high-quality talent on the field, but equally, off the field, their characters are second to none. So having a WA local, with Justin and then an out of state player with Barker College graduate in Doug, it helps provide a good culture and balance within the Academy."