Having grown up supporting the Western Force with his family, recent debutant Alex Masibaka is living out his childhood dreams in 2022.
The dynamic back rower has risen through the ranks at Swanbourne-based Associates Rugby Club (Soaks), RugbyWA state representative sides, and within the Western Force Fortescue Academy to reach the big stage of Super Rugby Pacific.
Masibaka made his Force debut in Round 11 against the Blues in front of family and friends at HBF Park after coming on to the field in the 64th minute.
The homegrown talent replaced fellow Western Australian Kane Koteka in the contest, as the Force mounted a thrilling comeback on an unforgettable night for Masibaka.
“It was surreal. Making my debut for the club is what I have been working towards since I was a kid going to all the Force games,” the 20-year-old said.
“My family have been with me every step of the journey, and I wouldn’t have got to this point without them — so it was extra special to make my debut in front of them in Perth. The Junior Wallaby relished the occasion, with the Force’s experienced players lending sage advice and encouragement ahead of the game.
“Kyle (Godwin) has always been very supportive of my family, and I having both come from Soaks,” Masibaka explained.
“Ian Prior said before the game that once you experience that first contact, it feels like a regular game, which was really helpful.
“It was great to come on the pitch with Jeremy Thrush. His wisdom has been massive for all of us. All the boys got around me and made it a great week, so I was quite proud after the game. “I focused on the breathing work we’ve been doing this year with our psychologist Jodii Maguire. The lessons she has taught us this year have been crucial for the mental side of the game.”
Masibaka had to work tirelessly with the Academy and senior staff to earn his first cap after sustaining a ma injury last year.
“I’ve been working with Dylan Parsons (Force Fortescue Academy Head Coach) since I finished school, and he’s been a mentor ever since,” the flanker said.
“Through the ups and downs, he’s been there to help me get through it on and off the field. “Ben Glynn (Force Fortescue Academy Head of Athletic Performance) and Ben Pattenden (Force Fortescue Academy Physiotherapist) have really helped me as well. We worked closely with my rehab, so they’ve been huge for me. I can’t thank them, Dylan, and the entire coaching staff enough.”
The Kwinana local played 10 minutes off the bench in the Round 12 clash with the Crusaders at home before travelling to New Zealand with the squad. He has certainly been making the most of his first professional tour with the Force.
“It’s been awesome to connect with the boys on and off the field here in New Zealand,” Masibaka notes.
“To watch the professionalism of the players in dealing with being away from home and preparing has been a great experience. The key lesson has been to stick to my processes and control the controllables.”
Having become Western Force player #222, Masibaka will be hoping to add to his two appearances in the years to come.