The Western Force has today confirmed its initial 36-player squad for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season with a couple more spots to be decided in pre-season.
Homegrown WA talents Carlo Tizzano and Marley Pearce, who was last season’s rising star award winner, have been upgraded from injury cover contracts to taking Super Rugby spots in 2024 and beyond.
Dynamic fly-half Max Burey, who spent last pre-season as a train-and-trial player with the team, is another who has been upgraded after a standout season year when called upon, having worked on his craft at the Force during 2023.
The return home of former Hale School student Tizzano in 2023, having spent three years with the NSW Waratahs and then Ealing Trailfinders in the UK, was a welcome sight for many of the Sea of Blue supporters as well as head coach Simon Cron.
“If we build a good program, where players feel like they are getting better at rugby and are supported, then I know we can entice Australian players to come back home,” Cron said.
Wallabies’ duo Nic White and Ben Donaldson along with former All-Blacks prop Atu Moli add a wealth of knowledge and excitement to the young squad. The very talented Harry Potter, who was a standout in the Toyota Challenge, has come back from the Leicester Tigers too.
They are joined by the extremely gifted number 8 Will Harris and loosehead prop Harry Hoopert, while Lopeti Faifua and Henry O’Donnell, having previously been announced as new signings, will be instrumental in the success of the team.
Back rower Papillon Sevele has been upgraded to a Super Rugby contract but will miss the 2024 season due to an ACL injury.
The Force made positive strides in head coach Simon Cron’s first season in charge in 2023 but narrowly missed the finals after a 5-9 campaign. Cron said he is excited to retain the core of last season’s group which will be complemented by their new recruits.
“A lot of the core team, who played high minutes this year are back again, which offers essential continuity,” Cron said.
“We’ve made some strategic signings of people we know will add to our team environment. Some experienced players will help with our player mentoring, as well as on-field consistency and decision making. The coaches, and players, wanted to improve positional competition so we can train at a higher intensity while continuing to drive up training standards and expectations.”
Cron said he was thrilled with the growth of leadership, and the players professional approach, during the 2023 Super Rugby season as well as the four-game Toyota Challenge series against the Cheetahs - South Africa’s Currie Cup winners – in August and September.
“We’re working on our technical/tactical knowledge by continuing to challenge each other’s rugby brains during the week. We were really impressed by all the players during the Toyota Challenge and how they helped drive some of the core growth areas we were working on during the 2023 Super Rugby season.”
Cron noted two or three spots are still open in the Force Super Rugby squad with a view to selecting players who impress in pre-season training which formally commenced on Tuesday night.
“We’re now coming back in for Super Rugby pre-season with some critical focus areas with the team to develop,” he said.
The Force open their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season on Friday 23 February 7pm WST against the Hurricanes at HBF Park. Memberships are on sale now, including the offer of free Junior Memberships. More info here.
Western Force squad:
Siosifa Amone, Tim Anstee, Max Burey, Ollie Callan, Ollie Cummins, Ben Donaldson, Lopeti Faifua, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Nikolai Foliaki, Charles Hancock, Will Harris, Harry Hoopert, Tom Horton, Feleti Kaitu’u, Felix Kalapu, Bayley Kuenzle, Santiago Medrano, Atu Moli, Henry O’Donnell, Campbell Parata, Reesjan Pasitoa, Marley Pearce, George Poolman, Harry Potter, Ian Prior, Jackson Pugh, Izack Rodda, Papillon Sevele, Sam Spink, Hamish Stewart, Chase Tiatia, Carlo Tizzano, Angus Wagner, Michael Wells, Nic White, Jeremy Williams