Force

Perth Force sign two new overseas Aussies

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The new Western Force Super 14 rugby franchise moved to defuse anger about its poaching raids on rival Australian outfits Tuesday by announcing the recruitment of two overseas-based Australian players.

The Force said the signing of lock David Pusey from Ireland’s Munster and fullback James Hilgendorf, now playing for provincial sides in New Zealand and Italy, showed the club was reversing the drain of Australian players forced overseas in search of top-level opportunities.

Pusey, 26, once played for the ACT Brumbies, while Hilgendorf, 23, made his debut with the Waratahs in 2003 before heading offshore.

“This is what the new team is all about — giving players an opportunity to play Super 14 Rugby when there was not enough room for them in the three existing teams,” Mitchell said in a statement.

“Apart from giving them the chance to play and develop their rugby at home, it also gives the Wallaby selectors a larger pool of talent to choose from.”

The Perth-based Force’s aggressive recruiting tactics have angered officals at Australia’s three existing Super 12 sides, the Waratahs, Brumbies and Queensland Reds.

The signing of the latest pair brings to five the number of players who have publicly declared their allegiance to the new side, which enters the expanded Super 14 tournament next year.

It has already snapped up Waratahs hooker Brendan Cannon and fly-half Lachlan MacKay and Reds’ lock Nathan Sharpe.

Mitchell said last week that the player roster was about 14 but some signings were reluctant to go public because they feared their existing teams would give them a tough time.

The Force have been linked with two Brumbies’ players — reserve scrum-half Matt Henjak and winger Clyde Rathbone.

Reports say another four Reds players have inked contracts with the newcomers.

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