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Ben Tapuai joins Western Force, Springboks Peter Grant rumoured to follow

The embattled Reds appear to have lost another player to a rival Australian Super Rugby team, with seven-Test centre Ben Tapuai believed to have signed with the Western Force. 

Tapuai appears set to join ex-NSW and Reds player Jono Lance in Perth next season, as the struggling franchise look to augment the talent of backs Kyle Godwin and Dane Haylett-Petty with some much-needed experience. 

Stormers five-eighth and five-Test Springbok Peter Grant has also been linked to the club, and it is believed that deal is close to being done. 

Tapuai, 26, endured an injury-hampered season at Ballymore, and after a start out of position at fullback in March, then found himself stuck behind Wallabies bolter Samu Kerevi and even Karmichael Hunt for his preferred mid-field spot. 

Tapuai's departure comes after the Waratahs swooped on up and coming Queensland flanker Brad Wilkin. An Australian U20s and Australian men's sevens representative, Wilkin will return to his home state to bolster the Waratahs' back row stocks next season. The 2014 champions farewelled No.6 Jacques Potgieter and No.8 Wycliff Palu in their disappointing semi-final exit last week, while the future of veteran Stephen Hoiles is believed to be still up in the air. 

Tapuai enjoyed two stand-out seasons in the Reds jersey in 2011 and 2012, parlaying that into a Test debut on the 2011 end of year tour and six further call-ups under Robbie Deans in 2012. 

He was later famously caught in the crossfire between Deans and Quade Cooper, with the former Wallabies coach nominating Tapuai's diminished form as an example of why Cooper was being left out of Australia's squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions series. 

Grant, 30, played five Tests for South Africa in 2007 and 2008 and has split his time between the Stormers and French club La Rochelle most recently. The West Australian reported he was being considered as a replacement for Sias Ebersohn, who was released by the Force last month, while the early departure of second rower Wilhelm Steenkamp would make Grant's recruitment possible. 

Under the Australian Rugby Union's contracting rules, the Force are allowed three foreign marquee players on their list. With Steenkamp's spot freed up, Grant would join New Zealand halfback Alby Mathewson and Tongan forward Steve Mafi.