The West

Longbottom enjoys the ride
Longbottom enjoys the ride

For someone who started his rugby life as a centre, Kieran Longbottom has become a handy prop.

Longbottom is the first born-and-raised West Australian to progress from junior ranks to the Western Force and will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance on Saturday night.

But the journey from Rockingham has not been easy.

He was in the first Force academy intake in 2006, played for the WA Gold representative side and was a member of the Perth Spirit squad in the Australian Rugby Championship before making his Force debut in 2008 against the Chiefs.

It had been a long wait after tasting rugby for the first time in Year eight at All Saints' College in Bull Creek.

"I had a couple of games at centre, but I was kind of a bigger boy so they told me I might be all right at prop," the 118kg Longbottom said.

Part of his rugby journey was regular trips from Rockingham to Force academy training.

"The drive up to Perth for the academy in the first few years after work, that was fun," he said, with a hint of sarcasm. "But it's been a good ride. I've had some good experiences along the way."

The next experience for Longbottom, currently in career-best form, will be in the dark depths of the front row against a massive Bulls pack at nib Stadium on Saturday.

The Force know they need to raise their set piece and breakdown work after the loss to the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday.

"Big (Bulls) pack, big boys. They've always been that way," Longbottom said.

"We've got to meet that challenge and front up physically. I'm going to put (the Rebels) down as an off week. It's nothing we can't fix.

"You come up against a different scrum every week, there are obviously different philosophies, so it's just having adaptability on the day and attack it and deal with it.

"We identified that we weren't supporting our ball carrier as well as we should.

"Contact area is an area we like to focus on, getting our body down, and we've got to get that back on point this week."

Longbottom described his 50-game milestone as "pretty cool" and said a Force appearance in the finals this season would be spectacular.

"It's one of those milestones you get along the way, you just have to push past it," he said.

"I had … games at centre, but I was kind of bigger … so they told me I might be all right at prop."" *Kieran Longbottom *

The West Australian

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