Super Rugby - Western Force
Western Force sign two Stormers
August 1, 2013
Marcel Brache and Chris Heiberg each cited Micheal Foley as a key reason in their decision-making process © Getty Images
Western Force will have a distinct South African flavour in 2014 after adding another two players from the Rainbow Nation to their Super Rugby squad.
Former Stormers centre Marcel Brache and prop Chris Heiberg are the latest arrivals at the Force, with the pair joining fellow South Africans Wilhelm Steenkamp and Sias Ebersohn at the Perth-based franchise.
With the Force now allowed six foreign development players and two marquees, the franchise has decided to move away from its traditional east coast-based player pool. The Force have already acquired a host of talent from South Africa, while they are also keen to snare more players from the Perth rugby competition. The acquisition of more South African players is also sure to draw bigger crowds given Perth boasts a big number of South African expats.
"With four provinces fighting over the same players on the east coast, we'll continue to think outside the square with regard to our recruitment," Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry said. "Marcel and Chris join our club as one of a number of recruitment initiatives we're putting into place that will not only see us become self-sustainable, but also help extend the list of players eligible for Wallaby selection."
The Force narrowly managed to avoid the wooden spoon this season, but officials are confident they have put the foundations in place to achieve future success under coach Michael Foley.
The club is still in talks with wayward Wallabies utility back James O'Connor, who hopes to receive a career lifeline from the Force so he can remain in Australia.
Brache and Heiberg join Ebersohn and Jayden Hayward as foreign developing players in the Force squad for 2014, while emerging Springboks player Steenkamp and New Zealander Alby Mathewson are the club's international marquee players.
Heiberg, who has signed a one-year deal, was part of the Stormers' set-up but failed to notch a Super Rugby appearance. Brache, who has signed a two-year deal, was born in America but moved to South Africa when he was 4 years old. He made his sole appearance for the Stormers last year.
"There's been considerable improvement in the Force this season," Brache said. "What's true to fact is that they've played with a will and a desire to have a go and play for each other. While results may not have gone the way the team would have liked, they've shown that when they put on the Force jersey they're doing it for the teammate next to them. They've shown a strong desire to play the game for the full 80 minutes on a weekly basis and as a player joining the club, that's something I aspire to do as well."
Heiberg, who joins the Force having been a part of the Stormers squad for their past two Super Rugby outings, against Queensland Reds and Southern Kings, has been a regular starter for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup and was starting tight-head for the side that succumbed to eventual champions, the Golden Lions, in the semi-finals of this year's competition.
"I'm really excited about joining the Force and I think it's one of the best decisions I've made with my rugby," he said. "I've always been impressed with how the Force has played their rugby and they've had some good performances this season. It's exciting to be going to a team where there's a lot happening and where there's a real focus on development which is excellent for my own game … I've enjoyed being involved with the Stormers and with Western Province but I felt the time was right to move on and have a change."