Back-row mongrel aims high
New Western Force signing High McMeniman gets aquainted with his new colours. Picture: Bill Hatto/WA News

New Western Force signing Hugh McMeniman hopes his move back to Super Rugby is the first step to a Wallabies recall.

McMeniman, who has returned after a three-year spell in Japan, played in the 2007 World Cup and played the last of his 21 games for Australia four years ago.

His priority is to put in a good pre-season and adding to his 114kg frame after he shed muscle to adjust to the Japanese game, but Wallabies selection ahead of next year's British Lions tour is on the agenda.

He can play in the second row but is a blindside back-row specialist, which is where Force coach Michael Foley is likely to use him.

He turned down the opportunity to stay in Japan or move to France to opt for the challenge in Perth.

"Watching Super Rugby I had a yearning to come back. I wanted that challenge again. I feel I'm at an age where I can still achieve things," McMeniman said.

"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.

"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."

McMeniman, 28, a former Queensland Red, is confident injury problems, including shoulder, neck and knee damage, are behind him. The only problem he had in Japan was a hamstring injury.

He spent the last couple of months working with renowned trainer Ian King, who has worked with Olympic, Commonwealth and World Cup athletes.

Foley, who has one more signing to announce, believes McMeniman can regain a Wallabies jumper and his experience will be invaluable.

"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," Foley said.

"I've known Hugh for a long time and watched him grow into rugby. He's obviously a talented player but he's going to provide invaluable experience to younger guys coming into the program. I particularly enjoyed coaching Hugh when he was last in Australia."

The West Australian

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