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Forrest’s $5m WA donation should settle debate on Force’s future, says Pocock

Former Wallabies captains Michael Lynagh and Simon Poidevin have also given a big thumbs up to the plan.

Pocock played in 69 Super Rugby games for the Force between 2006 and 2012. He is ecstatic that Forrest is digging deep to help rugby thrive.

“When I heard about what they were doing, I wanted to give back a bit and volunteer a bit of time,” Pocock told the Herald. “It’s great vision from the Forrests, wanting to really invest in the grassroots and getting young boys and girls going. They obviously have an interest in developing the professional pathway as well in WA.

“A lot of the [rugby] headlines you read, there is a lot of doom and gloom, but when you look at some of the stuff happening at the grassroots level … there’s a lot of boys and girls excited about rugby. They’re the stories we’ve got to be telling and working to get more people involved.

“I got to see during my time in Perth how much the game grew and I think this is an exciting next step in really creating a better future for rugby in the west and ensuring they are competitive and there are a lot of young West Australians coming through and having that professional pathway.”

The Force have agreed to take part in the revamped Super Rugby AU competition, but their long-term future is unclear. The season kicks off on Friday, although they won’t play their first game until the following week.

David Pocock during his days at the Western Force.

David Pocock during his days at the Western Force. Credit:Chris Hyde

Rugby administrators are working overtime to come up with a competition model for next year. New RA chairman Hamish McLennan said his preference was for something between Australian and New Zealand teams. Pocock said the Force had to be there.

“If you haven’t lived in Perth, it’s hard to understand just how passionate the Western Force fans are about rugby and how much they support the Force,” Pocock said. “I think finding ways to have Western Australia involved in whatever the format looks like going forward is great for Australian rugby and really important for Australian rugby in continuing to grow the game at all levels over there.

“We’ve seen some great talents come through to the Wallabies level and we’ve also lost a bunch of young players overseas who started in Perth. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep more of those players from going overseas.

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“You look at the under-20s; there is some great talent coming up and if we’re able to keep developing that and nurturing that talent, then I think there is a bright future despite a lean few years of results.”

Forrest said his ambition was to see WA become a “real powerhouse” rugby state.

“Nicola and I firmly believe we need to grow this from the ground up,” Forrest said. “Our ambition is to provide young talent with the skills, support, competition and a clear pathway to the highest level of the game, feeding into the Western Force men’s and Rugby WA women’s professional teams.

“We have a clear vision to shape an exceptional rugby product within WA, rather than our talented youth looking to eastern states or overseas for opportunities.”

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