The 'firehose' recruitment process driving competition at Force

Thu, Feb 1, 2024, 9:59 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Nic White reflects the type of signing Simon Cron was desperate to bring to the Force. Photo: Western Force/IG
Nic White reflects the type of signing Simon Cron was desperate to bring to the Force. Photo: Western Force/IG

Western Force coach Simon Cron is eager to build competitiveness at training as he reveals the decision to bring in halves Nic White and Ben Donaldson was led by their direct positional rivals.

Cron has prioritised experience in 2024, bringing in the Wallaby duo alongside the likes of five-cap All Black Atu Moli, Australia A prop Harry Hoopert and former Maori All Black lock Tom Franklin.

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“We have firehosed our recruitment. We’ve firehosed core positions, keen Rugby brains and knowledge and it’s about adding them into our environment with the existing players who we think are going to learn," he told

“We had a discussion as a player group that the most critical thing for us is positional competition,

“In Super Rugby, we have 18 games. Ok so we play 18 games, how many times in the year do we train? 150 at least, which one is more important?

“For us to grow and sharpen our sword and to make the best player, we need the guy standing opposite you to sharpen your sword.

“…If we have 150 trainings, we can’t have one good player on one side and the guy on the other side not being up to it because you’ll never get better. The higher you go, the less time and space you have and that’s the case for Super and Test level."

It's led to one of the more competitive halves groups in Super Rugby.

White will battle fellow Wallaby Issak Fines-Leleiwasa for a starting spot, with White's minor shoulder surgery for an aggravated tendon not expected to keep him out of the opening rounds.

As for Donaldson, he will compete with returning half Reesjan Pasitoa and 2023 standout Max Burey amongst others for the coveted flyhalf position.

Cron revealed he sought the advice of both Fines-Leleiwasa and Pasitoa before making the call to recruit the pair, who gave clear instructions to the second-year coach.

“I remember after one training last year Reesjan Pasitoa and said ‘Cronny that was terrible, the guys were poor skill-wise and we couldn’t get continuity’ and I told him we’d get another ten in and Max (Burey) was going well but on Reesjan’s team he wasn’t happy with it," he recalled.

“I said we’re going to get another ten, I was already speaking to Donno, so I asked (Reesjan) what ten do you want me to get; a guy that who every day is going to make you better, challenge you and try and take your spot or get a development ten? As you can see, I think you know what his answer was and I said ‘I think I can do that for you'. “Finesy was sitting in a team room in Brisbane and I said Gareth is going to be back to Saracens, that was part of the deal, we need another nine and he agreed. I asked him what nine he wanted and he said I want someone who’s going to make me better every day.”

It reflects Cron's vision to 'build Wallabies' at the Force, eager to boost their lone representation from last year.

“We get the players longer than the Wallabies do so we have to grow players and have a real mission around making Wallabies.

“I don’t like it in terms of teams beating teams, you want to win everything but the process to that is us coaching them to be the best player that we have.

“I think we’ve got a number of players here who will become one of those. Our job is to make that happen along with them doing everything that we asked them off the field, the homework and extra stuff that we ask of them.

“We have to make Wallabies so Joe (Schmidt) and his team inherit people who can go onto the big dance and handle the pressure, execute skills and have a level of core skills that he doesn’t have to start from scratch.

“Our job is to make sure he doesn’t have to start. Let’s say the Wallabies is a 100 m sprint, the Super teams want to be getting their players to the 80 metre mark so Joe has to do 20.”

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