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Thread: Western Force Player Review 2021 - The Backs

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    Western Force Player Review 2021 - The Backs

    Western Force – Player Review

    It’s been an interesting and ultimately rewarding season for the Western Force. As someone pointed out on Stan’s coverage the Force’s Super Rugby Atearoa experience mirrors their Super Rugby experience from 2020. If that does turn out to be true then we’re definitely on the right track.

    Our CEO talks a great game and if the new signings can stand up then we’re in for some fun next year. The pack looks to be in good nick and if anything will be stronger next year due to being a year older and the addition of Rodda and late season form of Ollie Callan.

    The backs is where the real work needs to be down, particularly at half back. Sadly it feels like we’re starting pretty much from scratch as really only Kyle Godwin and Tony Pulu are returning of the likely first XV. Hopefully we can resign Kuridrani, Ralston returns in form, one of Strachan/McGregor takes up the full back spot and a couple of the new signings can step into the shoes of Cubelli and Miotti.

    Enough about the future though, how did our squad go this year?

    Scrum Half

    Tomas Cubelli

    A fantastic season. One of the few international class players at the peak of their powers in the squad. He started a little slowly but once he got going he was all class. Seemed to play his best rugby up against the really top players and had some great days in the three wins in a row and against the Kiwi teams. Rumoured to be off to Biarittz in France next season, it’s a real shame for the Force as they have a decent pack and really need to have some top class IQ at 9 & 10 to take them up another level.

    Ian Prior

    The captain. Started the first and last games of the season but was usurped by Cubelli in between. Had some fantastic games off the bench and much like the team itself seemed to lift when the chips were down. Will face stiff competition next season from Fines and hopefully from young MacDonald.

    Michael McDonald

    Will probably be disappointed to make his way west and only see a few minutes of Super Rugby action. The type of player that would benefit hugely from a season of NRC. Hopefully next season he will get more opportunities to demonstrate his undoubted potential.


    Number Ten

    Domingo Miotti

    Was nowhere to be seen in the first couple of games as first Lance and then McIntyre were given the starting berth at 10. When he was finally given his chance he took it with both hands and looked the most solid all round ten the Force have had in many years. Not outstanding in any particular area he is good in all. Provides control and decent game management which the Force badly need and nearly all of the Force’s best moments have come with him on the field. It was very disappointing to see him announce his departure mid-season and the Force are back to square one with having another pair of starting half backs.

    Jake McIntyre

    I want to really like McIntyre. He’s game, he wants to run the ball and when he’s at his best he’s an attacking threat. However when he’s off he tends to shovel the ball, rarely kicks to offer variety and when he does it’s usually either poorly timed or badly executed. Missed touch far too many times from penalties which were momentum killers and confidence seems to have suffered. With Miotti leaving he has a chance to come back fresh next year and make the number ten shirt his own however the arrival of Kuenzel and Pasitoa will hopefully have him having to play significantly better to start games next season.

    Jono Lance

    Started the first game of the season at ten and perhaps suffered as a result. We made lots of mistakes and as a result the starting half backs were on the back foot against the Brumbies. A decent back up option however you have to feel with the arrival of Kuenzel and Pasitoa his time might be at an end.


    Centres

    Kyle Godwin

    Missed the start of the season and his arrival back into the team coincided with the upturn in our fortunes. Not sure if he was the reason but he certainly didn’t hurt. Defensively very solid he had a couple of great games including one where he moved out to 13 after Kuridrani’s suspension. Like many of the Force’s best players he’s not exceptional in one particular skill but seems to be very good all round.

    Henry Taefu

    A firm fan favourite Taefu can probably count himself unlucky that the Force have Godwin, Kuridrani and Kahui on their books. Didn’t let anyone down when he came in and his physicality in midfield certainly adds something. Maybe got caught positionally a few times but it’s difficult coming into the centres particularly when the backline changes so much.

    Tevita Kuridrani

    Suffers terribly from the ‘marquee signing’/’player he used to be’ syndrome. There’s no doubt he’s not the Kuridrani that was tearing it up for the Wallabies 5-6 years ago. Maybe he’s lost some gas, maybe it’s the way the Force play. The Force have looked at their best defensively when he’s in the team and he started to show some decent attacking form when we put out the same backline two games in a row.
    Hopefully he resigns for next season as he’s an asset that would be difficult to replace.


    Wings

    Richard Kahui

    Another veteran who we hoped might provide an injection from the bench and some experience for the young players to learn from. Instead he’s played nearly every game starting most. Obviously doesn’t have the top end gas he once had but still no slouch as evidenced many times this season. His decision making and influence on players around him is still top class. Got better and better as the season went on and hopefully has the hunger to go around again.

    Jordan Olowafela

    Such a shame that he was only a short time signing. But also so luck that we got him at all. Took a couple of games to get into it before lighting up HBF stadium with his game winning hattrick against the Reds. A smart winger who is competitive under the high ball, has a decent boot and the gas to go with it.

    Tony Pulu

    But for injury he’d have to be in that Wallabies squad. Yes there are some good wingers kicking around in Aussie rugby but he’s looked class every time he’s played. Smart choices and pace to burn. It would be interesting to see him play a run of ten games and see just how good he can be. Hopefully next season he can be the heir apparent to The Honey Badger.

    Marcel Brache

    Got a few games at the start of the year but as Olowafela joined and Pulu got fit he saw his chances limited. A great servant and quite obviously loves the Force you have to feel his time is coming to an end.

    Byron Ralston

    A player of great potential he failed to build on the promise of last season firstly with a slow start to the season (not necessarily his fault, the team started slowly) and then his horrific head injury. Will hope to restart next year and nail down a starting place and deliver on his undoubted potential.


    Fullback

    Rob Kearney

    Started the season very well demonstrating all his class despite the teams slow start. Shipped an injury half way through Super Rugby AU and when he eventually came back seemed a good bit off the pace of Super Rugby Atearoa. Doesn’t look to be returning in 2022 however delivered one last class performance away to the Blues at the weekend which was capped by a try. Probably his last in professional rugby.

    Jack McGregor

    Usurped by Kearney he did well when he got his chances once Kearney got injured. Very nearly suffered total ignominy when he kicked the ball out early against the Rebels and handed them an opportunity to won the game but recovered well. Needs a big season next year as him and Strachan battle it out for the number 15 jersey.

    Jake Strachan

    Came into favour once Kearney got injured and McGregor had a chance and put in some fine performances. Still learning his craft but provides a good alternative to McGregor. Both still have a bit of work to do but have hopefully learnt a lot from Kearney where they can apply this next season.

    4 Not allowed! Not allowed!

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    Excellent write-up. Well done.

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