The West

Force cub given free rein
Force cub given free rein

Western Force teenage playmaker Kyle Godwin will be allowed to play his natural game when he steps on to Eden Park for the Super Rugby clash against the Blues in Auckland today.

Coach Phil Blake insists he will not overload the rising star with too much advice or restrict his style when sent on from the bench.

"We'll probably just have a bit of a chat before the game," Blake said.

"He's a really good kid, he's got a good head on his shoulders and he'll be fine for when he's called upon.

"He's a big, strong kid and he's got good knowledge of game plans.

"Defensively, he's strong and he's got a good ability to lead us around the field and put us in good field position with his kicking game.

"This is a great opportunity for Kyle. He's had a taste this year and he's been away to the junior world championship, so this is all part of a valuable learning curve for him."

Godwin, 19, Australia's first-choice playmaker at last month's championship, has no illusions about the task ahead.

"I've got my fingers crossed. I just want to get some game time," he said. "Hopefully, if I get on, I'll be able to have a go at the line when there's an opportunity and use my passing game.

"Phil told me to take what I had learnt from the under-20s, to play my natural game, play what's in front of me.

"I'm still learning and I've got the chance to learn from some great players."

Zimbabwe-born Godwin, a former Aquinas College student, represented WA at under-15 and under-16 levels and captained the WA school side before making the Australian schoolboys three years ago.

He spent most of last season on the sidelines after damaging a shoulder in a Force trial match against the Australian Barbarians, but played strongly in the Force A side at full-back, where he also played in his one Super Rugby appearance as a reserve against the Reds at nib Stadium in March.

Godwin moved onto the Force extended squad from the academy this year, but may be the last player to do so because the centre was doomed after the Australian Rugby Union stripped $200,000 of funds.

Meanwhile, returning Blues captain Keven Mealamu, who has made only six appearances this year, teams up with another All Blacks veteran, Tony Woodcock, and Tonga prop Tevita Mailua in the front row.

And the numbers show they should have the edge at the set piece, where he and Woodcock have 179 Tests between them and Mailua has had a couple for Tonga. They have amassed 272 Super games.

The Force front row of Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles and Salesi Manu have just 101 Super appearances and only Cowan has international experience.

"I'm still learning and I've got the chance to learn from some great players.""

Western Force teenager *Kyle Godwin *

The West Australian

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