The Western Force announce the 32-man squad to tour Japan in a two-match series against Japan Rugby League One side Urayasu D-Rocks.
The Squad is comprised of 21 possible Force debutants and 11 returning Force players. The squad will face the Urayasu D-rocks this Sunday 6 November, 12:00pm AWST (not streamed to public) and Saturday 12 November, 1:00pm AWST (streamed to public, details to come).
2022 Fortescue Premier Grade Hampshire winner Otunuka (Nuku) Pauta (Bayswater), Giovanni (Gio) Leituala (Cottesloe), and top point/try scorer Kainoa Gudgeon (Wests), have been elevated into the squad that departs for Japan today.
Invited to pre-season training in October, they impressed head coach, Simon Cron with their commitment over the last four weeks. Validating their call up with their notable performance against Perth Gold, Cron is adamant they will make an impression in Japan.
“Gio and Nuku were standouts in Perth Gold game. They were outstanding in clubland this year, because of that we thought it was a great opportunity to bring them in and see how they performed.” Cron claimed.
“Gio and Nuku have been outstanding. They bring a lot to training and the squad. The key thing for us is selecting people in the Japan touring squad that can play in Super Rugby, and I think these two guys have stepped up and showed that they are capable.”
“Kainoa was initially injured with an MCL knee injury, he has worked his way back and now has proved fit to travel to Japan. He was top point scorer in club rugby, and we brought him in because of that.”
“I watched all three boys prior to my arrival in Perth, I also spoke to most of the coaches around Perth on who they thought were stand outs. These three men were frequent mentions and praised by most.”
Tier One Fortescue academy players Jhy Legg, Marley Pearse and Ned Slack-Smith have also gained a spot in the squad. Cron admitting Japan will further progress their physicality.
“The first priority for Jhy, Marley and Ned was performing at the U19s tournament, and we feel they all have been performing really well in that space.” Cron mentioned.
“Taking them over to Japan will progress their development and present them with an opportunity to play with and against men. They all have proven themselves at training and have been performing above expectations especially in the contact zone. I think it will be a great experience for them to come on tour.”
Max Burey and Nick Chan are inclusions from eastern clubs and will continue training with the Force for the remainder of pre-season.
“Max Burey is a first five fullback from the Northern suburbs of Sydney. He is a very dedicated professional and played well against Perth Gold on the weekend.” Cron stated.
“Nick Chan is an extremely talented centre out of Ranwick in Sydney. He has been involved in other professional programs before, and we are lucky enough to have him here in Perth. Nick could potentially play Super Rugby as well.”
“Closer to the start of the season, we will have a greater understanding of what contracts and what positions are available, but we are planning to keep them involved with us long term.”
Western Force Japan Tour Squad
* Denotes possible debut
Forwards Angus Wagner