The Western Force have signed former Chiefs prop Ben Castle as their first marquee signing for this year’s Super 14.
Castle, a former junior All Black, represents the Force’s first signing under the new law which allows Australian franchises to sign two players who are ineligible to represent the Wallabies.
Castle, who was recently plying his trade with Toulon in the French Top 14 becomes the second high-profile Kiwi to cross the Tasman after former All Blacks flanker Danial Braid was snapped up by the Queensland Reds last year.
The 1.85m and 115kg Castle has 42 Super rugby caps and will provide the Force with experience and solidity in the front row.
“Ben brings a wealth of Super 14 experience and he is a well respected New Zealand provincial player,” said Force Rugby GM Mitch Hardy. “He will add immediate value to our playing ranks and will also have a significant role in the development of our young props.
“We made no secret of the fact that we were looking for an experienced tighthead over the off-season, and when Ben approached us with an interest in coming to Western Australia we were quick to act.”
Coach John Mitchell believes Castle will prove to be a great addition to the Force squad.
“He’s an old-school type of prop who will be a good fit for our squad,” said Mitchell. “He will add experience and depth to our ranks, alongside fellow tightheads AJ Whalley, Troy Takiari and Kieran Longbottom.
“He’s renowned as a strong scrummager and will have benefited from his season in France.”