Staniforth storms into Wallabies frame

Tuesday May 23 12:41 AEST From Nine MSN:

Feeling like "excess stock" at the NSW Waratahs in 2004, Scott Staniforth took himself halfway around the world to a club calling itself The Exiles.

Two years later, Staniforth is back in Australia, back in contention for an Australian jersey, and feeling confident enough to warn Wallaby wunderkind Matt Giteau the Western Force number 12 position will not automatically be his next year.

Staniforth's return from London Irish to this season's Super 14 has been spectacular, with nine tries coming after the former Waratah winger was switched to centre, following the fledgling Force's string of injuries.

Big, fast and powerful, the 28-year-old has been so impressive in that midfield role that, four years after his last Wallaby appearance, he was rewarded with a call up to John Connolly's train on squad, joining Force teammates Nathan Sharpe, Scott Fava, Gareth Hardy, Lachlan MacKay, Cameron Shepherd and Tai McIsaac in Sydney this week.

Having played three times for the Wallabies early in his career, debuting with two tries against the USA in the 1999 World Cup, Staniforth was usurped at NSW by the arrival of rugby league imports Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers.

"I didn't think my career was going forward at NSW, I always thought I was excess stock there I suppose - I wanted to prove myself as a rugby player," he says.

Despite storming performances in London which earned him The Exiles' player-of-the-year award, there was always a feeling of unfinished business.

And so when Ben Tune and Clyde Rathbone both declined moves west, Staniforth became the 33rd - and final - player to join the Force ranks in the off-season.

"It has been good, to come back and prove myself at this level, I probably had a few questions to myself I had to answer," Staniforth says.

Playing in the Exiles' midfield had given him a taste of the position which he now enjoys and covets for next season, despite the impending arrival of Giteau.

"I played at London Irish at 13 and enjoyed the defensive qualities of the position," Staniforth said.

"I was hoping to get an opportunity at (centre) at some stage during the year ... I'd love to stay there.

"My enthusiasm for the game has increased because I am learning each week and new things about the position.

"You can get more involved. On the wing you have to make your opportunity a good one because it could be your only involvement in the game.

"Through injuries I have been put to 12, and I hope to stay there."

After revealing he had never talked to Connolly before getting his Wallaby training squad call-up, Staniforth said his recall helped to vindicate the creation of the Force.

Wearing the Wallaby jumper again, if the chance arose, would be "amazing".

"When you get there before ... I was there as a young fella, it would mean more than ever," Staniforth said.

"It kind of vindicates having the Force side. ... players like myself would not have been there (in the train on squad) otherwise."

Force coach John Mitchell said Connolly could do a lot worse than include Staniforth in his final squad, to be announced on May 29.

"He is a fantastic team member ... he would be a very good utility option in the Test mix. Where you'd play him would really be up to the Wallaby selectors, but he would be a pretty handy team member."