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Australian Sevens and former Brumbies outside back Ed Stubbs will join a completely revamped Emirates Western Force backline for the 2013 and 2014 Super Rugby seasons.
The new-look Emirates Western Force backline has received a wholesale makeover with 11 players that represented the side last season not returning for 2013. In their place, Stubbs is one of six new faces, including former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson, South African Under 20 flyhalf Sias Ebersohn, Wallabies utility back Sam Norton-Knight, Australian Sevens outside back Solomoni Rasolea and blockbusting former National Rugby League inside centre Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
The Emirates Western Force forward pack – long regarded as a strength of the side – has been boosted by the inclusion of former NSW Waratahs flanker Chris Alcock with a final place in the forwards yet to be confirmed.
The Emirates Western Force has one ‘backs’ position still available within its senior playing roster and may still utilise one of its foreign developing player contracts. The club’s additional five Extended Playing Squad members will be announced this week.
David Harvey, Jordan Rapana and Rory Sidey have been released from their contracts with the Emirates Western Force for 2013.
Emirates Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says the new additions for 2013 will complement the existing players within the squad.
“While the Force has developed a strong forward pack, we identified the backline is an area for improvement,” he said.
“Last year we didn’t do enough with the possession we’d secured and the focus for the future will be to develop that as a strength for the team.
“This is a back division with potential and they’ll benefit significantly from working under the tutelage of Steve Meehan.
“While players like Nick Cummins, Alfie Mafi and Brett Sheehan will remain, we’ve injected some outstanding up-and-coming talent in the way of Sias Ebersohn, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Ed Stubbs and Junior Rasolea, coupled with the experienced heads of Mathewson and Norton-Knight.”
Stubbs joins the Emirates Western Force after spending three years as a regular with the Australian Sevens side – including as a member of the Cup-winning side in London in 2010 – and three appearances for the Brumbies during the 2010 Super Rugby season.
The 23-year-old, who made his Super Rugby debut against the Cheetahs in 2010, scored two tries in Canberra’s John I Dent Cup grand final in 2009 to help the Tuggeranong Vikings to a 30-28 win over Queanbeyan.
He says he’s looking forward to joining the Emirates Western Force and building on his fledgling Super Rugby career.
“Any Sevens game, no matter how physical or expansive, is going to be quick and skilful, so coming into a side wanting to play a dynamic game is really exciting,” he said.
“For me, having the opportunity to play with a number of guys in the same situation as me is huge: everyone’s eager and keen to rip in and wants to put their best foot forward. No one can afford to be complacent and everyone will be keen for a massive year.
“I feel much more prepared coming into a full-time program the second time around. The experience of being in a full-time set-up with the Brumbies was great and showed me what’s required to play at that level. Playing Sevens was fantastic too for learning about the level of commitment required and understanding what’s asked of your body. Now I’ve had some exposure to what’s required I think it’ll definitely benefit me going into this season.
“My priority is having a massive pre-season with the boys, getting to know everyone and just doing what I can to contribute to a young and exciting backline.”
Foley says Stubbs is another player on the rise, ready to make his mark with the Emirates Western Force in 2013.
“Ed’s another quality signing for the club,” he said. “He’s a young, powerful and robust back who’s benefited from coming through the Sevens pathway and is hungry for another opportunity in Super Rugby.
“He’s still only 23 and has the potential for a long career at this level with the Emirates Western Force. He’s got a great awareness on the field, a good turn of pace and has the ability to offload in contact, and he’ll be pushing hard for a place in the 22 throughout the next two seasons.”
2013 Emirates Western Force squad:
Forwards: Chris Alcock*, Phoenix Battye, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Matt Hodgson, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma’afu, Lachlan McCaffrey, Ben McCalman, Ben Whittaker, Sam Wykes.
Backs: Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn*, Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson*, Sam Norton-Knight*, Ed Stubbs*, Solomoni Rasolea*, Brett Sheehan, Winston Stanley, Chris Tuatara-Morrison*, Will Tupou.
*new signing for 2013
Emirates Western Force backs not re-signed: Gene Fairbanks (Kinetsu Liners, Japan), David Harvey (released), Joshua Holmes (not re-signed), Napolioni Nalaga (Clermont, France), Jordan Rapana (released), Ben Seymour (not re-signed), Cameron Shepherd (Sale, UK), Rory Sidey (released – Melbourne Rebels), James Stannard (Toyota Shokki, Japan), Justin Turner (injured), Samu Wara (not re-signed)
Name: Ed Stubbs
Representative Rugby: 2010-2012 Australian Sevens, 2010-2011 Brumbies