Force pin hopes on Ripia
August 16, 2010
Willie Ripia has joined the Western force © Getty Images
The Western Force have plugged their gap at No.10 with the signing of Hurricanes playmaker Willie Ripia on a two-year deal.
The Force were struck by an injury crisis at pivot during last season's Super 14, losing marquee signing Andre Pretorius before the season began due to a serious hamstring injury. They were later forced to recruit Kiwi veteran David Hill on a short-term deal.
Now, chief executive Vern Reid is hoping that New Zealand Maori representative Ripia, 24, can provide stability at fly-half for the first time since Matt Giteau's defection to the Brumbies. He has moved to Perth as a 'foreign development player' and could later represent Australia once he has qualified on residency grounds.
"Getting game time and playing in my preferred position at first five-eighth was a huge incentive for me, along with the new challenge the move to Perth presents," Ripia said.
"I've been in and around the New Zealand system for a while now and thought it was time to challenge myself and my football. I think this is the right move personally and I'm determined to prove it'll be the right move for the Force as well.
"In the time I spent looking at the club and meeting the people there I could see the great culture they've built, that is something I'm really big on. It was definitely one of the big drivers for me to sign on."
"Wayne Barnes' decision to give Dylan Hartley his marching orders was brave but crucially it was the correct call." Graham Jenkins reports from the Premiership final
"We wanted to get the rugby spirit across to people, I firmly believe we have been in the thick of it." Tom Hamilton speaks to the ESPN crew on the final live broadcast
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown