Ioane commits his future with the Force

The Western Force have been boosted by the news that popular winger Digby Ioane will stay with the Perth franchise for another two years.

Hunted by the Reds, Ioane admitted the decision on whether to be close to family – including nephew and Reds forward Ole Avei – or continue his rugby education with the Force had been a difficult one.

But eventually rugby won out, with the 21-year-old saying he was relieved his immediate future was secured after officially signing this week.

“It was a pretty tough decision, but in the end I thought I could develop my football more in Perth,” Ioane said.

“I would like to go back to Queensland eventually, but Perth is the right place right now.

“WA and the Force have been good for me, and John Mitchell is a great coach.”

After his hard running style and distinctive hairstyle enamoured Ioane to the Force fans last year, Ioane was overlooked by Mitchell, even as a reserve, for the first five matches of the season.

But after getting his chance on the right wing against the Hurricanes when Scott Staniforth was a late withdrawal, Ioane has retained his spot, clinching the round seven bonus point against the Reds with a try on the siren.

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal outing against the reigning Super 14 champions last weekend, Ioane said defence, a highpoint up until Saturday, had been re-emphasised.

“The Crusaders were awesome – I think they would have done that to most sides in the competition on Saturday, but at the same time we weren’t good enough,” Ioane said.

“You can’t afford to miss the number of tackles we did, and that has been a real focus this week.”

Flanker Richard Brown, another Force recruit targeted by Reds coach Eddie Jones, has also recommitted, leaving only a handful of forwards – and one significant back – left to re-sign with the Force.

Matt Hodgson, Luke Doherty, Gareth Hardy and Angus Scott are still yet to commit – while vice-captain Staniforth will leave a decision as to whether he stays in Australia or goes to Japan until next week.

Staniforth was the Force’s player of the year last year, with his nine tries forcing a recall to the Wallabies squad.

But the 29-year-old was one of several internationals who received reduced offers from the ARU at the same time as rugby league recruits Timana Tahu and Lote Tuqiri received massive bounties.

Meanwhile, second string scrumhalf Chris O’Young will leave Perth at the end of the season to join Celtic League side Glasgow Warriors.

The Force will name their side to take on the Chiefs on Thursday, with Staniforth expected to be in the 22 after a knee injury.

David Pusey and Luke Holmes also flew into New Zealand earlier this week and will be considered.

Apprentice Tom Hockings and recovering pivot Lachlan Mackay have returned to Australia.

365 Digital

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