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The Emirates Western Force has continued its recruitment focus on powerful forwards for the 2014 season with the signatures of Rory Walton (lock), Adam Coleman (lock) and Robbie Abel (hooker).
Head Coach Michael Foley has continued to build a forwards unit that is strong at the set piece and skilful in general play, adding the trio to the already aggressive forward pack including the experienced Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Sam Wykes and Heath Tessmann, who have also re-signed with the club this year.
Walton, Coleman and Abel join local players Luke Burton and Ryan Louwrens in the Extended Playing Squad for the 2014 season and boast existing links with the state with Walton re-signing, Coleman training with the Force squad at the beginning of this year and Abel returning after a two-year Mormon mission in Western Australia.
“Our recruitment focus has been to identify forwards that not only show potential in the set piece, but are also skilful in open play,” Foley said.
“Rory worked extremely hard this year and was rewarded for his perseverance and strong work ethic with his first opportunity at Super Rugby level. He’s demonstrated a desire and ability to compete that established him as a respected member of the squad.
“Adam joined us for four weeks during the pre-season and improved significantly in that short period. He’s now had his first taste of Super Rugby and we’re pleased to be able to bring him into the squad to continue his rugby development.”
“While Robbie has taken a couple of years out of the game (as a Mormon missionary), his performances in the ITM Cup for Northland, have shown that with more hard work, he has the capacity to compete at a Super Rugby level.”
Rory Walton became a crowd favourite for the Emirates Western Force in 2013 with his powerful approach to his rugby and raw emotion on the field.
The lock recorded eight caps in his debut season, including his first start against the Waratahs in Round 17, and is thrilled to return to the club in 2014.
“I came into the club at the start of the year with the goal to push my case and make sure that I was contributing everything I had to the team and to be able to do that again this year is really exciting,” he said.
“I’m pretty excited to be putting my best foot forward and hoping to get a few more caps under my belt.
“I understand that I’m learning my trade; a builder doesn’t get his licence until he’s done three or four years so I’m happy to continue learning off a couple of guys who’ve been doing it a lot longer than me.
“The club has definitely taken a turn in the right direction and we’re on the up. I think this year we’re not going to be satisfied with just putting up a fight and being close in games, now it comes down to being able to get results and I think our satisfaction this year will come down to being a consistent team and winning the football games that we should win.”
Adam Coleman re-joins the Emirates Western Force having been a member of the the club’s wider training squad during the 2013 pre-season.
The lofty lock returned to Sydney and was rewarded for his club form when he was selected for the Waratahs as an injury-replacement to make his Super Rugby debut in the Round 17 clash against the Force.
Coleman grew up in Tasmania and was selected in the Combined States in Under 18s, before moving to Canberra where he was selected in the Brumbies Academy. He then joined the Australian Rugby Union’s National Academy in Sydney and represented Parramatta in the Shute Shield.
Coleman said the development he realised at the club earlier this year was a deciding factor in joining the WA side.
“It gave me a good insight into what Super Rugby is all about and it made me a lot hungrier to play at that level,” he said.
“I gained a lot of experience from players like Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Pek Cowan who have played at international level in my time with the club so it will be great for my learning’s and to get guidance from them at training and just really learn as much as I can in my time here again.
“The culture at the club is a massive drawcard for me and the team has done a lot in building the standards and values and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Hooker Robbie Abel joins the Emirates Western Force from the Brumbies Academy and returns to Western Australia, where he spent two years travelling around the state on his Mormon mission in 2011 and 2012.
Abel says the decision to take a two-year break away from the game he loves to undertake a Mormon mission has further ignited his passion for the game.
The powerful rake will join the Force following the ITM Cup season where he has been playing for Northland.
“I enjoyed my time in Perth; I loved the place and always thought I’d come back so it’s been good to get an opportunity to do that with the Force,” he said.
“Competition is what drives the best out of people so obviously to learn, grow and develop your game is the key and the standards that have been set by the team will see us push each other at the Force.”
Name: Rory Walton
Born: 11/04/1989, Canberra
Super Rugby caps: 8 (Force)
Super Rugby points: 0
Super Rugby debut: 2013 v Crusaders, Perth
Representative Rugby: 2007-08 and 2010-12 NSW Country, 2011 Australian Barbarians
Name: Adam Coleman
Born: 7/10/1991, Tasmania
Super Rugby caps: 1 (Waratahs)
Super Rugby points: 0
Super Rugby debut: 2013 (Waratahs) v Force, Perth
Representative Rugby: 2009 Tasmania Under 18, 2009 Combined States Under 18, 2010 Brumbies Academy, 2011 National Academy, 2013 Force A, 2013 NSW Waratahs
Name: Robbie Abel
Born: 4/7/1989, Orange NSW
Super Rugby caps: 0
Super Rugby points: 0
Super Rugby debut: 0
Representative Rugby: 2007 Australian Schoolboys, 2012 Brumbies Academy, 2013 Northland (ITM Cup)
The Western Force return to NIB Stadium for the second time this season and the Honey Badger wants sea of blue fans to “get your carcass on the chair”! In 2014 the Force had a slow start to the season, before finishing off strongly, and they will be hoping for a repeat after winning just one of their opening four matches this season!
The Queensland Reds are struggling with injury and form at present, and they’ve been handed another massive blow this weekend with James O’Connor (leg) & Lachie Turner (concussion) being ruled out. Suffering a 23-5 loss to the NSW Waratahs on the weekend, the Reds will run onto Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night looking to turn their season around after just one win to their name in the opening four rounds coming against the Western Force two weeks ago!