Alex Newsome: Why the ARU can’t cut the Western Force

Western Force winger Alex Newsome believes his new club has some of the most passionate supporters in Australia and said the ARU would be crazy to lose their footprint across the Nullabor.

The 22-year old former Eastern Suburbs back was invited to train with the Force late last year and played his way into matchday 23 on 12 occasions this season.

“When I got here, I was blown away with how passionate the rugby community is here and I really don’t think people in the eastern states realise that. Sure, AFL is strong but the rugby community here absolutely love the game and it would be a real shame to see their team taken away,” Newsome told Rugby News.

“The fans are amazing. When you turn up on game day, everyone is wearing Western Force colours and while the crowds aren’t always huge, it feel as though there are three times as many people in the stadium because they are so loud.”

On the field, the Force won six games and finished second in the Australian conference in 2017, only missing the playoffs on bonus points.

“We definitely got better every week this year and with a new group and a new coaching staff, you can kind of expect that. By the end of the season, we were playing some really good footy and everyone saw that against the Waratahs on Saturday night,” Newsome said.

“I said to one of the boys the other day, I’d love to be playing finals at the moment because I think we’re playing good enough to compete against those sides with the rugby we’re playing now.”

While he admitted part of the squad will always need to be imported from other parts of the country, Newsome said the quality of the local competition was improving each year and WA Rugby’s development pathway was becoming more clear.

“We’ve got the Haylett-Petty brothers, Dicky (Richard) Hardwick, Chance Peni and Curtis Rona who have all grown up in WA and there are plenty more on their way through the system.

“We’re just starting to reap the rewards of all the hard work the development staff have done in Western Australia so it seems ridiculous to end it all now.”

Newsome will return to Sydney and play with Eastern Suburbs for the remainder of the Shute Shield season while the Force’s future is decided but the winger remains hopeful that he’ll be back playing Super Rugby in Perth next year.

“I worked hard to get an opportunity last year and then once I did get signed, I did everything I could to make the most of it and I think I’ve learnt a lot this year and improved as a player. There’s obviously a lot up in the air at the moment but hopefully I can play Super Rugby with the Force for many years to come.”

In fact, he thinks the rest of Australia could learn a thing or two from the Western Force fans.

“Rugby in Australia has been going through a tough time over the last few years but our fans have supported us through thick and thin, particularly this year and I don’t think you see that as much in other states.

“It’s difficult to understand until you experience for yourself, but when you do you get a better idea of just how big rugby can be over here.”