Western Force 2023 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific squad revealed

The Western Force is thrilled to announce the 38-man squad for the highly anticipated 2023 Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific competition. 

Head coach, Simon Cron has enlisted a wealth of youth, dropping the squad's average age from 27 to 24. Cron has significant trust in the experience of his hand picked coaching staff to shape the young talent throughout the season.  

The squad includes four capped Wallabies Folau Fainga'a, Izack Rodda, Tom Robertson, Feleti Kaitu'u, and Argentinian Prop Santiago Medrano. A further seven players represented Australia A this year, including Tim Anstee, Jeremy Williams, Ollie Callan, Jackson Pugh, Bayley Kuenzle and Hamish Stewart. 

The Fortescue Academy program continues to succeed, with five promoted to the senior squad. Including Junior Wallabies captain, 19-year-old Ned Slack-Smith, who, after a dominant 2022 season, earns his spot in the back-row group. 

Ten fresh faces join the squad, including skilled fly-halves Bryce Hegarty (Leicester Tigers) and Hamish Stewart (Queensland Reds), with 179 Super Rugby caps and a plethora of experience between them. Chase TiaTia (Chiefs) sparks a potential lethal back three, joining former kiwi counterpart Toni Pulu and Flying Fijian, Nathan Sharpe dual recipient Manasa Mataele.

The retention of talent was just as crucial as the recruitment of new players. Perth's homegrown back row duo, Kane Koteka and Ollie Callan's long-term commitment to the Force hold the line in good stead for the coming season.  

The Force will kick-off their 2023 campaign against the Melbourne Rebels at HBF Park on Saturday, February 25. Don’t miss out on the best seats in the house! Become a 2023 Force member here. 

Anticipating an exciting, fearless Force to run out Round One, Cron highlights what the Sea of Blue is to expect come February 25.  

PROPS 

Angus Wagner, Bo Abra, Charlie Hancock, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Siosifa Amone, Andrew Romano

"Our front rowers give us mobility around the park and x-factor. Here, we have a diverse age split in players; we've got some experienced players and a next level coming through. They will push each other and create competition in the squad," Cron mentioned. 

HOOKERS

Feleti Kaitu'u, Folau Fainga'a, Jack Winchester

"This is a critical specialist position with core roles at set piece time. Folau is a great addition to this group with his power and experience. With Folau, Feleti and Jack, there will be opportunities to compete at training, help guide and grow each other," Cron claimed.  

LOCKS

Ryan McCauley, Izack Rodda, Felix Kalapu, Jeremy Williams, Will Sankey. 

“Outside of set piece it’s essential our locks excel in the tight. We are looking for dominant ball carriers as well as high tackle and cleanout numbers. We are excited to get Izack back on the field. He brings experience, is a massive human and genuine international lock. Felix is explosive and fast. Combining this with Ryan and Will's strengths we will want them all pushing each other in training," asserted Cron. 

BACK ROWERS

Jackson Pugh, Kane Koteka, Michael Wells, Ollie Callan, Tim Anstee, Ned Slack-Smith. 

"This is a great group of hard-working, high involvement, loose forwards. We are looking at them to lead the way on both sides of the ball as well as push the tempo at which we play,” Cron highlighted.  

SCRUM HALVES

Ian Prior, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Henry Robertson

"All our halves have their own unique strengths. For us as coaches it is about growing their game and looking to add even more strings to their bow. Game management and triple threats define great 9s. The three of them will bounce off each other and we are excited to be working with them,” affirmed Cron. 

INSIDE BACKS   

Bayley Kuenzle, Bryce Hegarty, Grason Makara, Hamish Stewart, Reesjan Pasitoa, George Poolman, Oliver Cummins  

"The addition of Hamish and Bryce brings additional experience in big moments. There are plenty of combinations making themselves known, all exciting options. The recent Japan tour gave us a good look at some of their strengths," stated Cron. 

OUTSIDE BACKS  

Chase Tiatia, Daniel Ala, Jake Strachan, Manasa Mataele, Toni Pulu, Reece Tapine, Rupeni Mataele  

"Chase is extremely skilful and a brilliant communicator, so a great addition to our squad. Manasa, Toni and Jake have all shown how much of a threat they can be with the ball in hand so it’s an opportunity for Reece, Daniel and Rupeni to push them in pre-season,” said Cron

Force Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Simon Cron 

Forwards Coach: Jimmy Duffy 

Backs Coach: Mark Ozich  

Defence Coach: Will Eggleston 

FORWARDS 

  • Angus Wagner  
  • Bo Abra  
  • Charlie Hancock  
  • Santiago Medrano  
  • Tom Robertson  
  • Siosifa Amone
  • Andrew Romano   
  • Feleti Kaitu'u  
  • Folau Fainga'a  
  • Jack Winchester  
  • Felix Kalapu  
  • Izack Rodda  
  • Ryan McCauley  
  • Will Sankey  
  • Jackson Pugh  
  • Jeremy Williams  
  • Kane Koteka  
  • Michael Wells  
  • Ollie Callan  
  • Tim Anstee  
  • Ned Slack-Smith

BACKS

  • Ian Prior  
  • Issak Fines-Leleiwasa  
  • Henry Robertson  
  • Bayley Kuenzle  
  • Bryce Hegarty  
  • Grason Makara  
  • Hamish Stewart  
  • Reesjan Pasitoa  
  • George Poolman  
  • Ollie Cummins  
  • Chase Tiatia  
  • Daniel Ala  
  • Jake Strachan  
  • Manasa Mataele  
  • Reece Tapine  
  • Toni Pulu  
  • Rupeni Mataele

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