Force search for foreign legion
Michael Foley, centre. Pic: WA News

Western Force are set to increase their foreign legion of players as they turn their focus on recruitment for next season.

They are currently allowed two international marquee and six development players in their 35-man Super Rugby squad under Australian Rugby Union rules but it is understood further dispensations are being investigated.

Former All Blacks scrum-half Alby Mathewson and South African second row Wilhelm Steenkamp are the marquee men.

Props Chris Heiberg and Francois van Wyk, back-rower Brynard Stander and centre Marcel Brache, all from South Africa, are four of the development players.

South African fly-half Sias Ebersohn, who is on the verge of signing a new deal, will not be classed as a development player next season and New Zealand back Jayden Hayward has left for Italy.

South African full-back/fly-half Dillyn Leyds from the wider training group will fill one spot if he stays next season. The Force are interested in a New Zealand winger and other imports are on the horizon.

The club had an off-field win in May, successfully negotiating to re-sign Mathewson for two more seasons when, under ARU rules, he would normally have been forced to leave this year.

Coach Michael Foley has eight vacancies in his squad. Talks with Queensland flanker Ed Quirk have ended and priorities are replacing versatile forward Hugh McMeniman and winger Nick Cummins, who have gone to Japan.

"We need somebody who can play a six and eight role with potentially a bit of lock and we need two back-three players," Foley said.

"The McMeniman role is critical because it mitigates some of the risk of injury in two key areas.

"We've got a couple of ideas but if we don't find the right guy we are certainly not going to sign somebody for the sake of it.

"We'll look at a contingency plan for the short term but you don't need to go external on all of those. We have to look hard at the development side of things.

"The first thing you do is look within your own squad and the local rugby community, but we will also look to the east coast, look offshore, New Zealand and the northern hemisphere.

"At the same time we will recruit a couple of players into our wider training squad which allows us to do ground development for 12 months and look at succession planning."

"We need somebody who can play a six and eight role … and we need two back-three players.""Force coach *Michael Foley *

The West Australian

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