Force play Country
The Western Force will host the Australian-Stockman rugby team as a community event to give country and regional players an opportunity to play on a large professional stage.
Just a week before their NRC campaign begins the Force will compete in a friendly match with the FMG Premier grand final on August 25.
The Force’s head of elite performance Matt Hodgson believes the game is important to bring Australian rugby together and is an essential opportunity for young players to build a relationship with the professional community.
“We are proud to champion the best interests of Rugby in Australia and provide grassroots rugby a bigger stage this year in Western Australia,” Hodgson said.
“The opportunity for grassroots rugby to combine with professionals in a friendly match is an incredible feature for community rugby.
“What we are building in the West relies on having solid grassroots development pathways, we see this match as an opportunity to do the same on a national scale.”
The Australian-Stockman Rugby squad will also be complemented by professional players, but will consist predominantly of club, regional and rural players from premier competitions around Australia.
Rugby WA CEO Bob Hunter discussed the importance of maintaining links between professional and community rugby Australia wide.
“The Australian-Stockman game is a perfect representative of all levels of rugby in Australia that identifies the positive relationships community rugby has with its players,” Hunter said.
“It that can also provide a strong stepping-stone to the next level.”
Former Wallaby Nic Henderson will be the coach of the Australian Stockman squad and is looking forward to the unique challenge after working with the Melbourne Rebels U20’s squad and the Junior Wallabies team in 2017.
“We reckon there is a fair bit of untapped talent in grassroots rugby, hungry for an opportunity like this one and able to perform at this level,” the former Wallaby said.
“This fixture presents a great opportunity to reward some of the best club rugby players in Australia with a Stockman Rugby jersey and a game against a professional team.”
Wallabies, Mark Gerrard and Nathan Charles are confirmed to be pulling on the boots to help steer the club and country rugby boys around the field.
“I think it’s great the Western Force are providing the opportunity and both teams are looking at the benefit it will have for grassroots rugby in this country,” Gerrard said.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to pulling the Stockman jersey on and having a crack and hopefully adding some experience and leadership around the paddock.”