Darwin joins new Perth Super 14 team




Former Wallaby prop Ben Darwin on Friday became the latest recruit to join the new Super 14 rugby franchise in Perth, signing on as an assistant to coach John Mitchell.

Darwin’s signing capped a successful recruiting week for the Perth team after Wallaby and Reds lock Nathan Sharpe agreed to take on the club’s captaincy and hooker Brendan Cannon defected to the west from the NSW Waratahs.

The only hiccup in the recruitment drive came Thursday when up-and-coming fullback Peter Hewat rejected a lucrative offer from Perth and re-signed with New South Wales.

Darwin, who has been head coach of the Sydney club Northern Districts, will become forwards coach for Mitchell beginning in October, Rugby Western Australia (WA) announced.

Rugby WA noted that the latest appointment had “a certain irony” since Darwin and Mitchell were “both plotting each other’s downfalls during the 2003 Rugby World Cup”.

Mitchell’s dream of winning the World Cup as the All Black’s coach ended in defeat to the Wallabies in the semi-final.

The game also ended Darwins Test career when he suffered a serious neck injury during a scrum.

Mitchell said Darwin’s experience and understanding of set piece play made him a valuable resource for Perth, which will join the expanded Super 14 competition next year.

“Ben’s expertise and his understanding of the contemporary game will be invaluable for the new WA Super 14 team,” Mitchell said.

“His strength also lies with his ability to communicate one-on-one with individual players to improve their scrummaging and lineout technique and execution, which is a crucial skill in todays game,” he said.

Darwin said he was honored to be working with Mitchell, whom he called “one of the world’s great rugby coaches”.

“Living in Perth will be an absolute bonus. It is a rare opportunity to start something new,” he said.

Darwin played 42 Super 12 matches for the ACT Brumbies and 28 Tests for the Wallabies before injury forced his retirement at just 27.

Perth is also reportedly negotiating with Reds winger Ben Tune and two leading members of the ACT Brumbies, South African-born center Clyde Rathbone and George Gregan understudy Chris Henjak.

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