Force

Melbourne Stormer becomes a Western Force

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Powerful Melbourne Storm centre Josh Graham will join the Western Force for next year’s Toohey’s New Super 14 competition.


The former Queensland Reds player has been lured back to rugby union on 2 year deal with the Perth-based team.


Graham switched to rugby league at the end of last year and made his NRL debut for the Storm in May, scoring a try against the Bulldogs.


The 98kg centre played for Australia at Schoolboys, Under 21s and Sevens levels but made the switch to rugby league after limited opportunities at the Reds, where he played four games.


Graham’s signing is proof that the addition of a fourth provincial rugby team in Australia creates opportunities for players not only overseas but in other football codes.  


The 21 year old said he enjoyed playing with the Storm but was looking forward to being part of a new club.


‘Even when I was at the Reds, before the Super 14 team had been announced, I thought it would be great being a foundation member of the new club,’ he said.


‘Now that it’s Perth, I know a lot of the guys going over there from Queensland and it will be great to link up again.’


Graham said he’d found the role of centre in rugby league and union much the same, although his time at the Storm had allowed him to fine-tune some of his skills, including his one-on-one defence.


‘At the Reds, I never really had a good chance, I was always at the back of the squad but now that I’m a bit older and a bit wiser, I’ll be chasing a starting position with the Western Force.’ 


Western Force coach John Mitchell said Graham was a powerful runner with a solid defence, who would fit comfortably into the team’s game plan.


‘Josh is a very talented athlete who we think can become a significant contributor to our attack over the next two seasons,’ Mitchell said.


‘He has the size and strength to impose himself on opposition defenders, and we look forward to developing his game in 2006 and beyond.’


Mitchell also said contract discussions with Brumbies flanker Tamaiti Horua had come to a close, with the two parties unable to agree terms.


Also, Rugby WA has confirmed the signing of outside centre Alexander Peden, who grew up playing soccer but switched to rugby little more than a year ago and promptly won selection in the ACT and Australian Under 19s.


The 97kg 20 year old was selected for the Australian Under 19s again this year but injured his hand.


Peden has signed a two year deal with the Western Force.


WESTERN FORCE SQUAD


Richard Brown, Vitori Buatava, Brendan Cannon, Pek Cowan, Scott Daruda, Tim Davidson, Luke Doherty, David Fitter, Josh Graham, Gareth Hardy, Matt Henjak, James Hilgendorf, Matthew Hodgson, Digby Ioane, Tai McIsaac, Lachlan MacKay, Alexander Peden, Junior Pelesasa, David Pusey, Angus Scott, Nathan Sharpe, Cameron Shepherd, Tajhon Smallman-Mailata, Brett Stapleton, Rudi Vedelago, John Welborn.

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