Force snare a Hunt of their own - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force snare a Hunt of their own

By Justin Chadwick 31/07/2009 07:03:47 PM Comments (0)

NRL defector Karmichael Hunt took a huge gamble and shocked Australia's sporting landscape when he announced he would take up Aussie Rules with the Gold Coast's new AFL franchise.

Now Super 14 club Western Force are rolling the dice after signing Hunt to a rookie contract.

But it's not Karmichael who the Force have lured, rather his Hunt.

Stefano will link up with the Force for the 2010 season but RugbyWA manager Mitch Hardy is hopeful the talented Queenslander, who he compared with emerging Wallaby James O'Connor, could make an impact by 2011.

"He's one of those young players we've taken a bit of a gamble on but he's been prepared to commit to the Force and we are hoping he's another bright star of the future that we can develop here through our program," Hardy said.

"Our expectation for him would be to develop as a player for the next 12 months and then really come onto the scene in 2011.

"Stefano has very good footwork.

"He has excellent understanding of the game and good vision, which for a young player is very rare."

The Force also announced they had secured former Brumbies utility back and one-Test Wallaby Mark Bartholomeusz for the next two seasons.

Bartholomeusz played 68 Super 14 matches for the Brumbies and helped lift the Canberra-based outfit to the title in 2004 before spending stints at English premiership side Saracens, Irish province Ulster and Italian outfit Padova.

The 32-year-old is able to play on the wing, at five-eighth, fullback or in the centres but said it was the No.10 jersey he was after.

However, with former Springbok Andre Pretorius expected to fill the five-eighth role full-time, Bartholomeusz is facing an uphill battle.

"I prefer No.10," Bartholomeusz said.

"At this stage of my career playing in those ball-playing positions and decision-making positions I enjoy the most.

"I will just have to wait and see how that pans out."

Bartholomeusz, who represented Australia for a total of two minutes and 33 seconds in his one and only Test against Italy in 2002, said the opportunity to return to Super rugby was "too good to pass up".

Meanwhile, Hardy said the Force may try to "pinch" some West Australian Aussie Rules juniors in the wake of Karmichael Hunt's shock move to the AFL.

"Most kids over six foot tall coming through the school system all get snapped up by the WAFL clubs," Hardy said.

"But certainly to be able to tap into that talent pool of tall, athletic players who can catch and kick would be beneficial for rugby and beneficial for the Force."

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