As we look upward, we peer directly into the belly buttons of the giants in the second row, where we find a lot of human crammed in a small space.
Where getting tighter becomes a mantra, and everything is about grabbing a handful of something - out of the air, off a ruck, in a maul, running at or through an opponent and when packing a scrum!
It’s what the Locks do, grabbing and moving, grabbing and moving over and over again without rest, like a human bucket-wheel excavator. To play Lock, you need a special engine – a large diesel tractor type of engine, the type that is strapped to rocket. An engine that contains unfathomable horse powers and spits fire when angry…actually, what you need is a dragon, dragons give you fire, they give you drive, and go-forward power; they are there to instill fear in to opposition.
Every rugby team needs a pair of dragons on the field!
The Western Force has had a fine selection of big men over the years, and 2015 is no different.
The coaching staff must be well pleased having a hand of Locks that can jump and be lifted in a line out, pack tightly, steady a scrum, and move at pace for not only 10minutes, but for the duration of game, giving both -the combinations, and the depth to play varied systems against differing oppositions and the head-aches of selection on a weekly basis.
This is only a good thing…
Sam Wykes – although only 26 years old, Sam, has been with the Force for eight seasons already, having captained the Force in a pre-season match in 2012, and the Perth Spirit in 2014, receiving a number of man-of-the-match honours in Force colours – Wykes is a valued member of the team and fan favourite.
Calling the lineouts, possessing good all-round rugby skills, as well as being a member of the leadership group, he continuous to develop and mature. Being the joint winner of the Geoff Stooke award for 2014, with Ben McCalman, Wykes is reaping the rewards of effort, hard work and commitment; many are tipping Sam to be in-line with a distinct possibility of being the on-field captain this season due to Hodgo’s injury!*
Adam Coleman – 204cm and 122kgs of young man, he comes with huge commendations and rugby lineage. The 23yr old is progressing into a massive asset for the Force and has been promoted to a senior squad member for 2015. Awarded the Western Forces Rising Star for 2014, and the upcoming season is earmarked for increased exposure and more playing minutes.
Big things are tipped for the Coleman’s future.
With arms longer than most people’s legs, there is a distinct possibility (and I will be listening closely), that we may hear, Sean Maloney, yelling “Yoink!!” after a cherry-picked steal off an opposition throw in!
Wilhelm Steenkamp – Having pulled a Chiefs player in for a hug to share the joy of Rugby here in Perth, Wilhelm is enjoying his time here, entering his second year for the Force. He brought with him excellent knowledge of the maul mechanics, which has broadened the technique in the Force’s attacking arsenal.
Doing what big South Africans do best, he adds a tight aggression into the pack, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of this from him this year. Clearing opponents off rucks, good scrumming and superb in the lineouts, Steenkamp will be important this season.
Rory Walton – As the man who looks as though he was born to fight dragons, Walton, plays with extreme emotion. At times looking as though its only anger driving him forward!
Named as the inaugural captain of the NRC Perth Spirit team, Rory brings a fantastic raw aggression with him, and I am a big fan of the focus for destruction that he has, smashing the ball up in attack, and looking to destroy any ball carrier, I hope this season, after an injury interrupted 2014, he is able to harness the anger and channel it into a sustained rage – employing it along with his hard running, and powerful contact play to smash through people with glee.
The ‘want’ to break an opponent is a fantastic quality to have as a Lock, and Walton seems to have got two servings of it.
Steve Mafi – Although mentioned in a previous article as a blind side flank, Mafi also packs at Lock, Perfect off the bench Lock, if not on the field flanking already, bringing a line bursting, open play style of running that can best be described as galloping. Perfect for running through defenders, and getting the offload to the support runners!
Bringing Mafi on after the half will cause many opposing player’s head to drop. Super comfortable at the top of a line out and offering another ruck attacking, ball securing, player that could be a distinct advantage if on with the rest of the back row, setting up differing points of attack around the field.
Leicester Tigers loss is definitely the Western Forces’ gain. Let us get this weapon out there!
As a fan im looking forward to these guys, taking on the rest of the Australian conference Locks, offering different styles of Lock play, combined into a single rotating unit to wreak havoc.
My call on the starting Locks is to be Sam Wykes and Wilhelm Steenkamp, with Adam Coleman and Steve Mafi rotating off the bench for the initial stages of the Australian tour. I would like to see the full wrath of Rory wound up and let loose to go berserk at a couple of the South African teams.
*At time of writing, Sam Wykes was named the on-field captain in Matt Hodgson’s forced absence.