Force bolster burgeoning 2024 squad with addition of NZ duo Tapsell and Hume

Force bolster burgeoning 2024 squad with addition of NZ duo Tapsell and Hume

The Western Force continue to make waves ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby Women’s season with the major signings of New Zealand pair Pia Tapsell and Sheree Hume.

Tapsell is a 25-year-old Black Ferns loose forward, who burst on to the international scene in 2019 when she debuted for New Zealand, nearly winning their Rookie of the Year award. She plays for Chiefs Manawa in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aupiki but is on the comeback trail after missing the 2023 season following an ACL injury.

Hume, 32, is a full-back with 70 caps for Otago Spirit in the New Zealand’s Farah Palmer Cup (FPC), who will bring a wealth of experience to the Force backline. She scored three tries in the 2023 FPC season for Otago.

The acquisition of the duo comes after the club confirmed the multi-year re-signings of Wallaroos pair Michaela Leonard and Trilleen Pomare, much to Force Super W head coach Dylan Parsons’ delight.

Parsons said: “Pia is a statement piece for this program. She comes out of the Black Ferns program where she was close to their 2019 Rookie of the Year.

“Her progress was slowed due to the COVID-19 years and then an ACL injury from March 2023, so she’s coming back now. She needed a change and saw our program in WA as the perfect place to restart her career again.

“We’re really excited about Sheree with the experience she is going to bring. She’s got over 70 games of experience in the FPC for Otago.

“For our young backs to have someone like that who’s played at that level for so many games, her experience is going to be invaluable.”

The New Zealand duo were both excited about the opportunities that the Force’s Super W program presents under the competition’s first full-time head coach, with the Force looking to build on last season’s growth that included winning back-to-back games for the first time, narrowly missing a maiden finals berth.

Tapsell said: “I am really excited to be part of a club that is actively fostering the growth of women's rugby, emphasising development pathways and making substantial investments into players and the overall women’s game.

“I knew it was an environment I wanted to be involved in after chatting with Dylan and (Female High Performance Manager) Claudia Bell, hearing about the ways the Force are implementing change and looking to future proof their squad and look after their players long term.

“Another thing that stood out to me was the Force’s partnerships with international clubs, which will provide invaluable opportunities for both players and coaches to play, train and learn in different high functioning rugby environments, further showing their commitment to the development of their union.

“Having played alongside some of the squad’s current players I know first hand some of the skill and talent within the team already and can’t wait to be involved. I look forward to contributing to the Force's growing and continued success on and off the field and can’t wait for the season ahead.”

Hume shared Tapsell’s excitement about the Force’s trailblazing program, which she believes can further bring out the best in her.

“I’ve heard some great things from my Otago teammates – Eilis (Doyle) and Leah (Miles) who both played for the Force this year,” Hume said.

“I’m excited to play in a new city with new team-mates especially under the guidance of Dylan.

“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to learn some new skills and further my knowledge of the game with Dylan being the first full-time Super W coach.”

The Force will open their 2024 Super W season at HBF Park against the Rebels on Friday 15 March from 4:30pm WST as part of a double-header prior to the men’s game against the Moana Pasifika

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