Perth - The Force have re-signed backrow and recent Wallaby debutant Richard Hardwick for the 2018 Super Rugby season.
The former UWA junior was upgraded from the Extended Playing Squad to a full senior squad contract, after an impressive season for the Force in 2017.
Hardwick, more affectionately known as ‘Dickie’, says this was an easy decision for him to make, the only place he wants to play his rugby is in Western Australia.
“The Force is where I want to play my rugby, I’ve said that before and I stand by it," he told the Force's official website.
"WA is my home, it’s where I was brought up, I’ve played all my rugby in WA, played for the state teams and come through the system to reach this point.
“Not only that I’ve got mates who have done the same thing, like Ross Haylett-Petty and Chance Peni who I played with when I was 15. WA rugby is producing the goods and it’s not going to be long before they are in the Wallabies squad as well.”
Hardwick has built his game on tireless defensive efforts and constant pressure on the ball carrier, placing him in the top 10 in the Super Rugby competition for forced turn overs and no doubt a big factor in what caught Wallaby head coach Michael Chieka’s eye.
Hardwick reflects on his whirlwind season as a dream come true and attests much of his development to RugbyWA and the Force team.
“It’s awesome, I’m looking forward to another year and putting consistent performances together for the Force," he added.
"I’ve taken a lot of confidence out of what I’ve been able to achieve this year and can’t wait to go again next year and build on that.
“With ‘Hodgo’ hanging up the boots I want to step up and play in that number seven jersey and try the best I can to fill his boots. He’s a legend of our club and he’s done so much for the club but I’ll do my best and give everything I have to this team.”
Force head coach Dave Wessels says the re-signing of Hardwick is fantastic news for the club and looks forward to seeing the young flanker develop in WA.
"’Dickie’ deserves all the recognition that has come his way recently,” he said.
“He’s extremely hard working and plays for those around him, but he also understands that there is plenty more for him to work on. We’re delighted to have him as part of the group in 2018 and beyond.”