WA duo embracing learning opportunities

by RUGBY.com.au

Breaking into a Super Rugby side is never going to be easy, but try sitting in a queue behind a captain and a current Wallaby.

That’s the situation that WA duo Kane Koteka and Richard Hardwick find themselves in at the Force, with Matt Hodgson and Ben McCalman both well entrenched in their back row positions.

The pair have previously combined during their junior years, playing as flankers in numerous state sides, and are now both are relishing their time at a senior club.

Koteka made an impact in his debut Force season, playing 10 matches for the club and showing huge potential.

Whether he manages to continue that trajectory in 2016 remains to be seen but the 21-year-old simply wants to keep learning off players like Hodgson.

“At least you’re pushing yourself every day to try to be better to try and keep up with those guys,” he said.

“I guess after last year the expectations are a bit high, mostly from myself, but nothing really changes.

“I just want to keep training hard and what will be, will be.”

Hardwick has a similar outlook, as he works his way towards a Force debut.

Seeing his friend make waves last year has only spurred the 21-year-old on ahead of the 2016 season.

The stance of Force coach Michael Foley, who has made it clear that form will be rewarded keeps Hardwick motivated, as does the opportunity to soak up knowledge from teammates.

“It’s every kid's dream to come through from the bottom and work your way up to being someone like Hodgo,” he said.

“You watch them as a young kid and go, ‘That would be pretty cool to (play with them)’.

“Now we train with him every day and we’re learning so much from him.”

Hardwick and Koteka were two of the inaugural winners of a Future Force scholarship, a program set up to help develop elite Rugby players in Western Australia.

Hardwick said the program was invaluable for his progress, offering something that traditional pathways might not.

“it’s a big step forward for WA rugby,” he said.

“It opens up an opportunity that club rugby can’t really offer - getting you into a full time program your body getting used to the physical work you have to put yourself through."