Force snap up a World Cup forward
The re-launch of the Western Force has been enhanced with the recruitment of former Wallabies lock/flank Hugh McMeniman for the 2013 Super Rugby season.
Regarded as one of the premier Australian forwards, McMeniman left Australian shores in 2009 to join Japanese franchise, the Kubota Spears, after five seasons with the Queensland Reds.
The powerful, hard-running forward earned 21 Test caps for the Wallabies over four years, including four appearances during Australia's 2007 World Cup campaign.
McMeniman began his Test career with his debut against Samoa in Sydney in 2005 after progressing through the Australian ranks with the Australian Schoolboys (2001) and Australia A (2005).
While the Western Force will run out a completely revamped backline in 2013, McMeniman is one of four additions to the renowned Western Australian forward pack, along with former NSW Waratahs flank Chris Alcock, and extended playing squad members Rory Walton and James Hilterbrand.
Coach Michael Foley said McMeniman is a key signing for the Western Force.
"Hugh is a player of the highest calibre, he plays with a lot of mongrel and having seen his performances in Japan, he's lost nothing since he's been gone," he said.
"While the Force lost some experience at the end of last season, Hugh will share the load with others who will step up to fill that void. He's very powerful in his general play, and, importantly, he's a player that will drive standards within the squad."
McMeniman joined his new Western Force teammates Monday for the first session of pre-season training ahead of the 2013 season.
The 28-year-old, who played 29 Super Rugby matches for the Reds, said he's keen to return to Australian Super Rugby as part of a new-look Western Force side.
"I've been watching Super Rugby for the past few years – I've missed playing it and obviously there are other higher opportunities available if you play well at the Force," he said.
"It's a very exciting time to come into the franchise. The franchise's contracted a number of young guys, as well as guys like Sam Norton-Knight and Alby Mathewson. There's a good mix there and there's no reason we can't turn things around like what the Brumbies did last season.
"I played under Foles at the Wallabies and when he got the job at the Force I was very keen to come over. He's a technical coach but also a very good communicator. He's someone that will help you with your game. He's not someone who will stand back and just watch things go by, he'll step in and help where it's needed.
"I also went to school with Richie Brown and wanted the opportunity the play with him again as well as wanting to live in Perth.
"My first priority is having a good season with the Force but in the back of my mind is that goal of working my way back into the Wallaby side. But first of all it's about getting through pre-season and building a base to hopefully be selected for that starting side for the Force."
The Western Force has one place remaining within its senior squad and one position available in its Extended Playing Squad for the 2013 Super Rugby season. The franchise may also still utilise one of its foreign developing player contracts.
Western Force squad:
Forwards: Chris Alcock*, Phoenix Battye, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, James Hilterbrand (EPS)*, Matt Hodgson, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma'afu, Salesi Manu (EPS), Lachlan McCaffrey, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman*, Rory Walton (EPS)*, Ben Whittaker, Sam Wykes.
Backs: Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn*, Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson*, Sam Norton-Knight*, Ed Stubbs*, Solomoni Rasolea*, Brett Sheehan, Michael Snowden (EPS)*, Winston Stanley, Chris Tuatara-Morrison*, Will Tupou.
* New signing for 2013