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Dream come true for homegrown duo

Born and raised in Western Australia, Grason Makara and Jackson Pugh made their Super Rugby debuts for the Western Force in front of family and friends during the Round 3 clash with the Queensland Reds.

The pair grew up together attending Aranmore Catholic College playing school rugby. Now, as roommates, they are living as Western Force players alongside one another.

Makara and Pugh developed their craft in the academy system and gained invaluable experience playing in the Fortescue Premier Grade at Wanneroo and Palmyra respectively, as part of the Force pathway.

They were joined on the pitch by fellow Future Force Foundation Academy graduate and local Wanneroo talent Ollie Callan (Western Force player #197). Callan made his second Super Rugby start of his career in Round 3 after making his starting debut against the Crusaders in Christchurch during last year’s campaign.

Makara (Western Force player #194) had to bide his time to make his Super Rugby debut after earning his first cap for the Force in the Global Rapid Rugby competition against Malaysia Valke in 2020.

The talented centre was also named in the match day 23 for the memorable one point Round 9 win over the NSW Waratahs last season at HBF Park, but was an unused substitute.

The 21-year-old was thrilled to make his Super Rugby debut and experience it in front of those closest to him.

Grason Makara Debut

“It was great, I had my family from South Australia, New Zealand and Sydney there. As soon as I ran on, I could hear them screaming my name. They got shirts made with my face on them to support me, which was awesome,” Makara explained.

“I remember just seeing my face next to the number 23 at the team announcement meeting and thinking ‘here we go’. I was excited because I knew it was a home game in front of the Sea of Blue and all my family had flown to Perth.

“When I took my bib off on the bench, my family in the corner of the ground just started shouting and screaming. I was nervous getting on the pitch, but I was focused on hunting for the ball and doing as much as I could for the team.”

Having grown up going to games cheering the Force on with his family, Pugh (Western Force player #218) said it was a “dream come true” to take to the field.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster of a week. I wasn’t originally named in the squad, then on Wednesday night I got a call from Sambo (Head Coach Tim Sampson) to come to captain’s run,” Pugh said.

“Then after captain’s run on Friday, I got the call that I was playing. It was a dream come true to put the Force jersey on and make my debut at home in front of my family.

“I remember going to Force games as a kid and watching the likes of James O’Connor play, so it was a surreal experience to play against him. I was nervous to come on, especially so early in the game, but I focused on being confident in my role.”

Makara and Pugh were quick to heap praise on the Force academy and its new process-driven structure.

“It was a long and gradual build to get to this point. It started with Steve Anderson (former academy coach) at the academy, who made sure we were disciplined in everything we did,” Makara said.

“I’ve always been learning with the academy and it really helped me.”

Pugh highlighted the importance of the academy’s holistic approach to ensuring a smooth transition to Super Rugby.

“The academy sets us up perfectly for the professional environment. There are a lot of modules on leadership that teach you to ask questions and to never be afraid to speak up, which is really helpful when training and playing with senior players,” the towering lock noted.

“I was very lucky to have Steven Anderson as a coach in the academy. He’s an awesome coach who taught us key lessons and set us up for success.”

Makara, Pugh and Callan certainly have bright futures ahead of them at the Force and are providing inspiration for the next generation of players in the Western Force Fortescue Academy.

Pugh has been selected again for the Round 4 match with the Waratahs in Sydney, and Callan will start for the second consecutive week at flanker (7).

Catch Pugh and Callan in Super Rugby action this Sunday from 11am live on Stan Sport.