17 Aug 2010

Ripia to play for the Western Force

5:56 am on 17 August 2010

The Taranaki and Hurricanes first five Willie Ripia has signed to played his Super rugby for the Australian Western Force franchise for the next 2 years.

He joins the Force as a foreign development player after committing his international future to Australian rugby.

The 24-year-old New Zealand Maori representative has already notched 30 Super rugby appearances with the Highlanders and the Hurricanes.

RugbyWA chief executive Vern Reid says it was no secret that finding a quality first-five was top of their list during the off-season and in Ripia they believe they have achieved that.

If Ripia stays in Australia for three years he will become eligible for Wallabies selection.

Despite his NZ Maori appearances, Ripia has fallen down the pecking order at the Hurricanes, with first five Aaron Cruden emerging this year as the heir apparent to All Blacks' superstar Dan Carter.

Ripia says his decision to move to Perth has a lot to do with the opportunity to become a starting player once more.

The New Zealand under-19 and under-21 representative says he'd happily pull on a gold jersey if the opportunity arises but he's not thinking that far ahead.