ACT Brumbies eyeing off axed Western Force talent

The ACT Brumbies will announce multiple signings from the Western Force next week and coach Dan McKellar confirmed there could be more players from the axed club if roster sizes are increased.

Rugby confirmed in the wake of the Force being cut from Super Rugby a transition period will likely see the 30-man roster and $5 million salary cap increased for next season.

The Brumbies have almost finalised their roster but will recruit more talent if the new rules allow them to contracted additional players.

There are four uncontracted Force players on the Wallabies spring tour at the moment but only one would fill a void at the Brumbies in 2018.

Ben McCalman, Curtis Rona, Matt Philip and Billy Meakes are on international duty and yet to sign with clubs for next season – but with the Brumbies back-row and outside back stocks full – only Meakes would fit the bill.

The Brumbies only have three centres with genuine Super Rugby experience in Christian Lealiifano, Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani and must pursue the rising No. 12 Meakes.

The 26-year-old has been linked with the New South Wales Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels and if the Brumbies miss out there are other options to bolster their midfield.

Former Wallabies flyer Nick Cummins took this year off rugby but the 15-Test utility back has suggested he could return to Super Rugby next season.

Cummins hasn’t played in since 2015 when he left for Japan but the 30-year-old could finish his career on home shores.

Western Force utility and Canberra export Robbie Coleman could return to the Brumbies after leaving in 2016 and with 80 ACT caps to his name would comfortably slot back in.

n teams endured their worst season on record this year but McKellar believes with a more condensed player pool will see them return to winning ways in 2018.

“There are some good players coming out of the Force and n teams are going to have stronger rosters because of that,” McKellar said.

“That’s just how it works going from five teams to four, there is less opportunity now which creates more competition for spots amongst the remaining teams.

“We’ll be looking [at Force players], we’re always looking at players we need and if we need them in the positions available then you always consider it.”

However, McKellar said if the squad sizes are increased the first place he’ll look is the Brumbies’ backyard and promised to continue the club’s rich history of promoting Canberra players.

“We’re always looking but the first place we look is our local players and recent history shows that we do sign guys from the local competition,” McKellar said.

“Andy Muirhead has signed on the back of good season with Royals, Ben Hyne, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Tommy Staniforth and Les Makin have all come through local pathways.

“You should always look locally first then make decisions, but we’ve got to pick guys we feel are best for job in that particular position.”

McKellar watched every game of the Canberra Vikings season and said he was impressed with their run to the National Rugby Championship grand final.

“Vikings players player like Harry Lloyd, I think he’s got a big future as a loosehead prop and we’ll have him doing pre-Christmas training with us just to expose him to that next level up,” McKellar said.

“Len Ikitau is a player that has been in and around our program for 12 months and is someone that will ideally progress to the next level down the track.

“We need to make sure we continually provide a pathway for local players the NRC has been good for their development and helps bridge that gap between club rugby and Super Rugby.”

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