Force sign Sevens ace Stubbs
Force sign Sevens ace Stubbs

The Western Force have signed Australian Sevens representative and former ACT Brumbies outside back Ed Stubbs for the next two Super Rugby seasons as the club continues to make wholesale changes to its backline.

Eleven backs from last season's squad have gone. Stubbs is one of six new faces, including former All Blacks scrum-half Alby Mathewson, South African Under-20and Cheetahs fly-half Sias Ebersohn and former Wallabies utility Sam Norton-Knight.

Another Australian Sevens representative, outside back Solomoni Rasolea and former National Rugby League inside centre Chris Tuatara-Morrison have also been signed with former NSW flanker Chris Alcock.

The Force have15 forwards and 13 backs with one player still to be added to each group. One will be their second foreign developing player.

Their five man extended playing squad will be announced this week but scrum-half Mick Snowden has been signed from Shute Shield side Eastwood and prop Salesi Manu will spend another season in the EPS before moving into the full squad.

Coach Michael Foley said the new additions would complement the squad.

"While the Force has developed a strong forward pack, we identified the backline is an area for improvement," he said.

"Last year we didn't do enough with the possession we'd secured and the focus for the future will be to develop that as a strength for the team.

"This is a back division with potential and they'll benefit significantly from working under the tutelage of (assistant coach) Steve Meehan.

"While players like Nick Cummins, Alfie Mafi and Brett Sheehan will remain, we've injected some outstanding up-and-coming talent."

Stubbs, 23,had three years with the Australian Sevens side and was a member of the Cup-winning side in London two years ago.

He made three Super appearances for the Brumbiesin2010after making his debut the previous season.

"Any Sevens game, no matter how physical or expansive, is going to be quick and skilful, so coming into a side wanting to play a dynamic game is really exciting," Stubbs said.

"Having the opportunity to play with a number of guys in the same situation as me is huge. Everyone's eager and keen to rip in and wants to put their best foot forward. No one can afford to be complacent and everyone will be keen for a massive year.

"I feel much more prepared coming into a full-time program the second time around. The experience of being in a full-time set-up with the Brumbies was great and showed me what's required to play at that level.

"Playing Sevens was fantastic for learning about the level of commitment required and understanding what's asked of your body. Now I've had some exposure to what's required I think it'll definitely benefit me going into this season.

"My priority is having a massive pre-season with the boys, getting to know everyone and just doing what I can to contribute to a young and exciting backline."

Foley said Stubbs is a player on the rise.

"Ed's another quality signing for the club. He's a young, powerful and robust back who's benefited from coming through the Sevens pathway and is hungry for another opportunity in Super Rugby.

"He's still only 23 and has the potential for a long career at this level with the Force. He's got a great awareness on the field, a good turn of pace, the ability to offload in contact and he'll be pushing hard for a place in the 22 throughout the next two seasons."

2013 squad to date:

Forwards: Chris Alcock, Phoenix Battye, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Matt Hodgson, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma'afu, Lachlan McCaffrey, Ben McCalman, Ben Whittaker, Sam Wykes.

Backs: Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Sam Norton-Knight, Solomoni Rasolea, Brett Sheehan, Winston Stanley, Ed Stubbs, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Will Tupou.

Backs not re-signed: Gene Fairbanks (Kinetsu Liners, Japan), David Harvey (released), Josh Holmes (not re-signed), Napolioni Nalaga (Clermont, France), Jordan Rapana (released), Ben Seymour (not re-signed), Cameron Shepherd (Sale, UK), Rory Sidey (releasednow with Melbourne Rebels), James Stannard (Toyota Shokki, Japan), Justin Turner (injured), Samu Wara (not re-signed)

The West Australian

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