The Western Force have signed up lock Phoenix Battye for the 2013 and 2014 Super Rugby seasons after he made his debut against the against the Reds in March this year and has gone on to record a further eight caps.
Battye, who initially joined the Western Force on a rookie contract for the 2011 Super Rugby season, represented the Australian Under 20 side for the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship, and was a member of the starting XV in the side's loss to New Zealand in the final.
The towering 204cm second-rower has served his apprenticeship under Wallabies Test veteran Nathan Sharpe and says he's ready to help fill the retiring lock's shoes in 2013.
"Both the Western Force and Perth have embraced me and it was always my preference to stick around," he said.
"I wanted to repay everyone for the trust they've put in me. Making my debut for the club this year meant a lot and I wanted to try to give back to the club as much as I can.
"I've been here for two years now and my development has been immense, particularly playing under Sharpie and Wykesy [Sam Wykes]. Wykesy has a lot of knowledge under his belt now and Sharpie is one of the stalwarts of Australian rugby so they've helped me develop in leaps and bounds and I'm looking forward to that continuing.
"I've learnt a lot from them in terms of lineout play and general movement about the field. Obviously I've got my own flavour and the way I like to play the game but they've definitely had an influence on that in terms of teaching me good habits.
"I'd like to be pushing that starting squad. I've been in the squad for all but two matches this season and that's been a huge step for me. While there was never that expectation that it would happen, I've tried to take that opportunity with both hands."
Western Force Forwards Coach Nick Stiles says Battye has helped to provide depth in the West Australian forward pack.
"Phoenix has been with us for a couple of years now; he's shown good development in that time and it's a great signing for us," he said. "It's been such a valuable learning tool for him to have Sharpie to train and play with. He's now seen one of the greats of all time up close and seen his preparation on and off the field and that's been a key part to Phoenix's growth.
"We obviously lose Sharpie next season and so it's time for Phoenix to step up, continue to develop and show that on-field."
Name: Phoenix Battye
Representative Rugby: 2010 Australian Under 20, 2007-2008 ACT Schoolboys