Force add punch to the pack
The Western Force's focus on building an increasingly physical forward pack for the 2014 Super Rugby season has received a further boost.
The Western Force's focus on building an increasingly physical forward pack for the 2014 Super Rugby season has received a further boost with the retention of hooker Heath Tessmann for another two seasons.
The Western Australian side will add further size and physicality to their forwards for 2014, with Tessmann joining the likes of new recruits Wilhelm Steenkamp (Bulls) and Chris Heiberg (Western Province), as well as Matt Hodgson, Hugh McMeniman, Ben McCalman, Tetera Faulkner and Sam Wykes, who have each recommitted to the Force this season.
Head coach Michael Foley says Tessmann's re-signing will add to a physical forward unit in 2014.
"We're developing a forward pack that is not only skilled in the set piece but also has the ability to have an impact in the open - and Heath fits that bill," he said.
"After joining the wider training squad during the pre-season, he earned the respect of the whole team through his strong work ethic.
"His determination to persevere over a number of seasons to achieve his first start is a tribute to his character. That quality, coupled with a number of excellent contributions, makes him a valuable member of the team into the future."
Tessmann joined the team as a member of the Western Force's Wider Training Group last season before being elevated into the senior squad as injury cover for Ben Whittaker (broken foot) and later Nathan Charles (knee reconstruction).
The 29-year-old rake, who started 10 matches in the Force's No.2 jersey this season, finished in the top five in the 2013 Nathan Sharpe Medal tally and says he's looking forward to further developing with the Western Force over the next two years.
"Since arriving at the Force my game has improved considerably and I'm excited about continuing that development within the program," he said.
"A lot of the technical work I've been doing with Foles [Foley] has been very beneficial for my game specifically, and it's been exciting to see us improving across a number of key areas as a team this season.
"It's exciting to be a part of a team on the up. We definitely turned the corner this year and the recruitment for next season will only continue that development. With a number of guys like Benny McCalman, Hugh McMeniman and Wykesy also re-signing this year, we've got a core group of players that played together this season and will continue to develop together over the next few years.
"There's a great vibe within the team at the moment, even during the off-season training block. While we're as far out from the season as we could be and it would be easy for guys to be just going through the motions, everyone's really motivated and the feeling within the squad is extremely positive. Guys who've been here for a number of years like Hodgo [Hodgson], Wykesy [Wykes] and Pek [Cowan] are all reaching personal bests in the gym, and there's a number of younger guys who are pushing the older ones all the way."