Rugby Union


Force lure former Wallaby home

TOWERING forward Hugh McMeniman is confident his body is ready to handle the rigours of Super Rugby as he eyes a return to the Wallabies ranks.

McMeniman was unveiled as the Western Force's latest signing yesterday, giving the Perth-based franchise vital cover at both lock and blindside breakaway for their 2013 campaign.

Shoulder and knee issues limited McMeniman to just 29 appearances over five injury-plagued seasons with the Queensland Reds from 2005-09, and 21 Test caps for the Wallabies.

The 114kg powerhouse headed to Japan for a fresh start in 2009 to play for the Kubota Spears.

But with the British and Irish Lions set to tour Australia next year, McMeniman is desperate to break back into the Wallabies set-up, and jumped at the chance to join the Force. And after spending time with renowned fitness trainer Ian King in recent months, McMeniman said he had gained a greater understanding of how to look after his body.

''Ian's very reputable in helping injured people regain fitness and understand their bodies. It's been a very interesting time. I've learnt a lot,'' the 28-year-old said. ''I faced a pretty hard fitness regime in Japan and I got through that pretty well.

''I feel I'm at an age where I can still achieve things. Watching Super Rugby from over there, I had that yearning to come back. I really want that challenge again. The next couple of years for rugby is a pretty exciting time. There's the British and Irish Lions tour, and also down the road the World Cup.''

New Force coach Michael Foley said McMeniman would add vital experience to a side that lost the likes of Wallabies duo Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock last season. ''Hugh is a player of the highest calibre, he plays with a lot of mongrel and having seen his performances in Japan, he's lost nothing since he's been gone,'' Foley said.