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Western Force squad: New faces, experience and local talent revealed for Super Rugby Pacific

Western Force have unveiled a mix of youth, local talent and experience in their 2022 Super Rugby Pacific squad.

They have lost Test experience in players like former Wallaby Tevita Kuridrani, Argentinian trio Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Lezana and Domingo Miotti and Irish veteran Rob Kearney.

But they still have plenty of international depth among the 28 players retained from last year and in the eight new players, including Wallaby second row Izack Rodda.

Most of the new faces, like scrum-half Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa and prop Harry Lloyd, have joined the Force with multiple years of Super Rugby experience under their belts.

Coach Tim Sampson said it was always planned to move on some of the older players, brought in to strengthen the side in their first year back in the fully-fledged Super competition.

“Last year, coming back into the proper Super Rugby competition, we wanted some good senior players in the squad,” Sampson said.

“That was part of the strategy. This year we had to make adjustments and balance the squad out a bit more.

“The forwards are pretty steady from last year, we haven’t moved too much there,” Sampson said.

“The backs have a few more new faces.

“We still have a lot of experience in guys like Jeremy Thrush, Sitaleki Timani, Richard Kahui, Kyle Godwin, Ian Prior just to name a few.

“The new guys are not rookies coming straight out of the academy.

“We feel the balance is right.

“Last year we travelled with a 41-man squad. That was a lot.

“We’ve trimmed it back to 36 and we have got our academy players on top of that.

“After a historic campaign in 2021 it was important to build on those foundations and we’re confident this group is ready to take the next step.”

Ten of the squad have their roots in the WA pathways.

“Local products are a big focus for us,” Sampson said.

“There are also some really talented players coming through our academy.”

Rugby manager Matt Hodgson said retention of local talent was just as crucial as recruitment of new players.

“We have a very promising group of homegrown WA players that have shown fantastic progress over the last couple of years,” Hodgson said.

“They will only improve alongside the new faces at the club.

“One of our major focuses as a club is developing young talent from within WA and Australia to become stars for the Force and eventually on the international stage with the Wallabies.

Force squad

Props: Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Harry Lloyd, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Angus Wagner

Hookers: Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester

Second-rowers: Ryan McCauley, Jackson Pugh, Izack Rodda, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush

Back-rowers: Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander, Fergus Lee-Warner,

Scrum- halves: Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa, Michael McDonald, Ian Prior

Fly-halves: Jake McIntrye, Reejan Pasitoa

Centres: Kyle Godwin, Richard Kahui, Bayley Kuenzle, Grason Makara

Outside backs: Daniel Ala, Brad Lacey, Manasa Mataele, Jack McGregor, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Jake Strachan, Reece Tapine

In: Daniel Ala, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Lloyd, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Reece Tapine, Izack Rodda.

Out: Marcel Brache, Tomas Cubelli, Rob Kearney, Tevita Kuridrani, Jono Lance, Tomas Lezana, Kieran Longbottom, Domingo Miotti, Jordan Olowofela, Jonah Placid and Henry Taefu.

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