The Western Force Back Row – Take this a friendly warning!
There is talk at many a rugby gathering, be it club, pub or internet forum about the loss of mongrel in our sport at the minute, and what is being done to find it, harness it and unleash it…
Well done to coaches Michael Foley, K. Foote and D. Wessels. The Back Row pack that has been developed at the Western Force, over the last couple of seasons is something to behold.
Possibly the most depth and most balanced stocks in a single team in the whole Super Rugby competition.
As is fitting when describing mongrel, let us look at this group as a pack of farm, hunting and junkyard dogs…….bred to go all day at full pace, face first, body on the line, hardest, meanest, toughest animals on the planet.
Angus Cottrell: A blindside flanker, a Ridgeback mix. An extremely capable jumper and doesn’t like strangers on its territory. Cottrell is athletic and tall, with a strong inclination to inflict damage.
Bred to hunt lions…..I repeat - bred to hunt lions.
Steve Mafi: New to the pack, a big pig-hunting dog, with equal dashes of Wolfhound and Rottweiler for height and mass, devastating in attack, and looking to dent any piggies. The type of dog you want on your side of the fence.
Ben McCalman: Not called Dog (with a ‘D’) without reason, sporting the darkened muzzle, a mastiff cross every day of the week -massive and very powerful – a farm dog that revels in his position steadying the scrum -grafting- doing his job, no fuss, no frills, a mostly quiet dog – which are often the scariest.
Ross Haylett-Petty: The pup of the pack….there is always one…..Its feet are too big for its body, it grows bigger than the rest of its litter, and it doesn’t stop growing. To look at him there is potential for the pup to be bigger than the Great Dane and he is in the perfect school of hard knocks to run with the Big Dog.
We look at the openside flankers and all three of these specimens are solid mixes of Pitbull, Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terriers with varying nuances that are a necessity for surviving the open fight that is the junkyard of a number 7, and while I don’t think these ‘dogs’ have started any fights – I cannot see any of them backing off from one. In fact, if they were to be involved in one and they came away with a prize opposition ear, I can well see them presenting it to the ‘Sea of Blue’, with the greatest of grins that these breeds are known for.
Chris Alcock: The Bull terrier and Pitbull cross! Seen busting through (de)fences and possessing a ridiculous turn of pace, Alcock is difficult to get a firm grip on and almost impossible to knock over.
A stack of constantly bustling energy that will launch himself at absolutely everything, be involved in everything, with little regard for personal safety, a vital part of the pack.
Matt Hodgson: The Captain is a Staffy x PitBull Terrier, the type that is attributed to having lock jaw. We’ve seen him get his hands on the ball in a ruck, it takes more than a beating and a bucket of water to get the ball away from him. The type of dog that as you work past the yard, it stands on the bonnet of the car eyeballing you as you walk past to let you know that he is in charge!
Brynard Stander: Noted for leading with his face and no fear attitude there is more than a touch of Pitbull in this Staffy, often seen patched and bleeding, there is no slowing down as he seems to be relishing the opportunity to charge at anything that walks past the front of his gate.
Look through the names, and then do it again! This pack of dogs has found a home at the Western Force Kennel where grit runs deep and the mongrel doesn’t end here. I advise for all to take heed, if your ball gets kicked over the fence – go home, because you aren’t getting it back.