Hardwick puts pen to paper with Force
NEWS: The Western Force have signed Namibian-born Richard Hardwick for the 2017 Super Rugby season.
Born in Namibia the 22-year-old grew up in Western Australia and earned his stripes playing for the University of Western Australia. Additionally, he spent years at the Future Force Foundation.
The flank made his Super Rugby debut in Round Six this year against the Highlanders and went on to play a further three games in a whirlwind year for the young back rower.
In what was his third year in the Future Force Program, Hardwick had made significant improvements to his game and was eager for the opportunity that Super Rugby presented. It was Round Six this season that the Force were struck with injuries in the back row and Hardwick was flown to Dunedin where he made his debut in one of the most daunting arenas in world rugby, Forsyth Barr Stadium otherwise known as ‘The Glass House’.
Hardwick says he’s incredibly proud to have signed with the Force and can’t wait for next season.
"I’m absolutely over the moon," he said. "I’ve worked really hard to get to this stage and I still have a lot to prove to myself and my teammates, but I just can’t wait to get out there, enjoy my rugby and play alongside my mates,"
The 22-year-old admits that the Future Force Program was instrumental in his rise to Super Rugby.
"The Future Force Program has given me the tools and the platform to get me where I am today. It gave me the opportunity to train every day and be exposed to a professional program. There’s no doubt that it has massively helped me on my journey to play professional rugby,"
With the likes of Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman, Brynard Stander and new signing Isi Naisarani in the mix to play back row next season, Hardwick knows it will be competitive to earn a jersey next year.
"It’s fantastic that we have so much competition in those positions, it’s really important to all of us that we keep pushing each other to get better. As we know rugby is not an individual sport and if we can push each other to get better it only benefits this franchise,"
Western Force head coach Dave Wessels says Hardwick’s elevation from the Future Force Program is thoroughly deserved.
"It’s fantastic to have another local Perth player in the main squad," he said. "Richard [Hardwick] was an inaugural member of our Future Force Program along with Kane Koteka and Harry Scoble, both of whom have gone on to perform at Super Rugby level.”
"It’s a great boost for the club but also great recognition for the Future Force program and all the good work that’s being done there,"
"He’s playing in a very competitive positional group, but he showed a real ability towards the end of the season when he got his opportunity to play at Super Rugby level.
"His ability to get on ball and to challenge the opposition at the breakdown is something that he’s shown a real talent for and something we want to build on in the next few months,"