Force front rower finds mentor in Fourie
South African prop Chris Heiberg is excited for the opportunity to learn from and spend time with former Springbok Jaque Fourie.
Influential Western Force recruit Fourie will bring invaluable experience to the reborn squad, according to Heiberg.
Fourie started his role as player-coach just last week, fresh off the plane from South Africa, and his presence around the club is already noticeable, Heiberg says.
“Just to pick up on some of his knowledge, and have conversations with him, it’s big for any player in the group,” Heiberg says.
“From the youngest guy in the squad to the oldest, you’re just picking up on his knowledge and his experience.”
The Western Force will field a fresh team in 2018, which boasts a spread of experience and youth.
The men in blue are well positioned to tackle modified rules, designed to re-energise the game, in the new World Series Rugby competition, which kicks off this Friday, May 4 at nib Stadium in Perth.
Heiberg says the group has the guts and diversity needed to try out the unique new style of rugby World Series will pioneer.
“You’ve got the excitement of the youth coming in and the older guys to calm those emotions if it gets a bit carried away, which is really good,” he says.
“The game is a blank canvas. There is a lot of unknown so I think we will get our first taste of it on Friday.”
Thirty-two-year-old Heiberg played over 20 games for the Force before moving back to South Africa for a short stint with the Southern Kings and Eastern Province Kings.
He says coming back to the Force was a “no-brainer”.
“I’m really honoured to be back at the Force, it’s a club that gave me my starting opportunities, so I’m very grateful,” the South African says.
“When I heard there was something special building up in the West, it was a no-brainer for me to move back and help the Force with something that is quite unique.”
The returning athlete thanked West Australian rugby fans for their support in keeping the Force alive and running.
“First and foremost, I’d like to say thank you,” Heiberg says.
“Thank you for coming out and supporting us, hopefully, the rewards will come now.”
The forward rower says he is looking forward to walking out in front of the Sea of Blue in Friday’s game against the Fiji Warriors.
Heiberg says his favourite thing about Western Australia is how dedicated the people are to the game.
“It’s a very passionate rugby state,” Heiberg says.
“They love their team and they get behind their team.”