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Rugby WA Academy gets new sponsor and faces

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Fuel technology group Firepower will sponsor the RugbyWA Academy in its second year, with the program getting underway today.


New faces to the Academy include former Brumby Runner Jon McGrath and Australian U21 players Tom Hockings and Michael Dan, while 10 of last year’s in-take have been invited back.


Firepower chief executive Tim Johnston said his company was delighted to support WA’s rugby nursery, and looked forward to the day that an Academy graduate wore the ocean blue of the Emirates Western Force in the Super 14 competition.


‘Firepower’s corporate story is one of growth, so it’s only fitting that we compliment our backing of the Super 14 team with support for the nursery,’ he said.


‘Selection in the Academy will not only assist with player development, it will put them in the running for a place in next year’s new National Competition squad, and Firepower is thrilled to be a part of that pathway to excellence.’


Ten of the players were inaugural members of the Academy, and have been invited back, while eight ‘ including this year’s PG Hampshire Award winner James Stannard – have joined the squad for the first time.


There will also be five local club players who will join the program on a trial basis in the pre-Christmas phase.  


The structure of the Academy is such that McGrath, Hockings and Dan will join the professional program.


McGrath played with the Brumby Runners from 2000 until 2006, missing only the 2003 season due to injury. The former Australian U19 scrumhalf has already represented the Emirates Western Force, coming off the bench against the Brumbies in the Australian Provincial Championship.


Dan and Hockings both played for the Australian U21s in this year’s World Championship in France in June.


Dan, a flanker, represented the NSW and Australian Schoolboys in 2004 and is a product of Sydney‘s St Joseph‘s College (Hunters Hill) while Hockings, a lock, hails from the Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane and played for the Australian U19s last year.


RugbyWA chief executive Peter O’Meara said the Academy program was central to the longer-term goal of having locally-trained players representing the Emirates Western Force and Australia.


He said that in the Academy’s inaugural year, players were not only put through a high quality training program but many got to play the Japanese touring teams, and two of the squad spent a fortnight in New Zealand with the Emirates Western Force.


‘The Academy offers great opportunities for those players prepared to put in the time and effort to go to the next level,’ he said.


‘We welcome this year’s intake and applaud Firepower for investing in the future.’


The Academy squad is: Dan Bailey, Will Brock, Tim Carslaw, Michael Dan, James Dougall, Joe Egan, Tom Hockings, Jon McGrath, Ryan Lenegan, Kieran Longbottom, Angus Neilson, Adam Scari, James Stannard, Ryan Tyrrell, Col Unasa, Justin Webster, Darren van Wyk, Garth Ziegler

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