Wed, May 22, 2024, 9:00 AM
Ben Somerford

Western Force veteran Ian Prior has spoken about his connection to community rugby ahead of next week’s WA Challenge Cup final with Associates on the latest episode of the Full Force Podcast.

Full Force Podcast host Cairo Takarangi chatted with the 33-year-old scrum-half on a range of topics, including his childhood in Zimbabwe, sitting on the sidelines in the 2011 Super Rugby decider with the Queensland Reds, moving west in 2014, the club’s axing and return to Super Rugby, the emergence of Global Rapid Rugby and the 2019 NRC title.

Bundaberg-born Prior is one of only three players to reach 100 caps for the Force, having become an adopted Western Australian over the past decade, settling down in Perth with his wife Lizzie and their two kids.

The former Force captain has only played once in Super Rugby Pacific this season, finding himself behind Nic White and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, but he spoke passionately about playing at Fortescue WA Premier Grade level with Swanbourne-based Associates.

Playing in the new WA Challenge Cup, which is a knockout style competition involving the top two tier WA rugby clubs, Prior’s Associates have qualified for the final, to be played against Kalamunda from 3pm prior to the Force-Brumbies clash on Saturday 1 June at HBF Park as part of the Super Rugby's Community Round.

Prior led the way as Associates, or as they’re affectionally known Soaks, won 30-27 over Wanneroo in Saturday’s grade curtain-raiser at HBF Park and was excited about getting out on the park again.

“They had a good pre-season comp in the Challenge Cup,” Prior told the Full Force Podcast about Associates. “We’re going alright (second in Premier Grade with a 4-1 record) but still got a fair bit of work to do.

“I’m a product of the club pathway, so I love having the chance to give back and teaching guys things that I’ve learned, if they’ve got questions and things I can help them with.

“Seeing guys and girls that work all day and that love and joy for rugby, which you can sometimes miss at the professional level. Seeing how much they look forward to going to training at the end of the day and getting home at 9pm, it’s quite inspiring particularly as a professional athlete where that’s our only job.”

Prior’s connection with Associates dates back years and he fondly recalls the club winning the WA Premier Grade title in 2018.

“They’re a really good club,” Prior said. “Really good family values, look after each other. There’s quite a few second-generation Soaks players at the moment, their parents played there and now their kids are playing there. It’s really cool.”

Listen to the full episode-