The Western Force has extended the stay of scrum-halves Ryan Louwrens and Ian Prior until the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
The pair join fellow half-back Alby Mathewson, who is signed to the Force until the end of 2016.
Head Coach Michael Foley said signing three strong scrum-halves puts the squad in a strong position moving forward.
“We’re fortunate to have three high quality scrumhalves that are pushing each other for the ‘9’ jersey,” he said.
“Alby, Ian and Ryan challenge one another and it’s provided a healthy and very competitive environment for them to continue to improve.
“This season, Ian’s shown great signs of development in his running game, which compliments excellent speed of clearance and a good awareness of the strategic decision-making required to ensure the team gains and maintains momentum.
“Ryan has made the most of his opportunities this season. As a young player, he’s benefited immeasurably from the tutelage he’s received from Alby over the past 12 months and brings a running threat in attack and a physical presence in defence.”
Local product Louwrens made his Super Rugby debut this season against the Chiefs in Hamilton, and has already returned two tries in his four appearances for the club.
He has already spent two seasons as part of the Force squad, with his 2014 season cut short by a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and subsequent knee reconstruction. The Cottesloe scrum-half is looking forward to continuing his career with the Western Force.
“It’s a great feeling to know I’ll be staying here with the Force,” said Louwrens.
“I’ve loved getting my opportunity to play Super Rugby this year and knowing that I get to stay here with this group of guys for another two years is fantastic.
“Having been in Perth and played with Cottesloe for a number of years, pulling on the Western Force jumper was something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I’ve enjoyed every second of playing Super Rugby for the Force.
“I’ve had great support from my wife and my family and they’ve been very pleased for me to see the hard work pay off this season.
“Alby and Ian are both excellent ‘9’s and there’s a lot of good competition for that spot between us. Alby helped me a lot in pre-season to get my game sharpened up, and it’s also thanks to him that I’ve been able to reach this point in my career this season.”
Prior returns for another two seasons with the Force, after joining the Western Australian-based club for the 2014 Super Rugby season from the Brumbies.
The former Australian U20 representative has already registered 24 appearances for the Western Force over two seasons, as part of Super Rugby caps across five seasons for the Queensland Reds, Brumbies and Force.
Prior, who also represented the Perth Spirit in last year’s National Rugby Championship – including a 23-point haul against the Sydney Stars, says he’s excited about remaining in Perth with the Force.
“I’m really happy to be back for another two years,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed my rugby and developed a lot as a player while I’ve been here, and I really enjoy the Perth lifestyle. The boys here are fantastic, I really enjoy playing under the coaching staff and so it was a pretty easy decision in terms of the all-round package on offer here.
“Perth feels like home now and I’m really happy away from my rugby too which is really important. I know this was the best place for me to play my rugby and it’s an environment where I feel like I can really thrive and continue developing – both personally and professionally.
“While we may not have the best season in terms of results, there’s still a strong belief that we’re heading in the right direction. We understand that there are ups and downs as we head to where we want to get to, but we’re a young group that is continually developing.
“It’s a good indication of the environment and culture around the club that players are buying in and are keen to stay.”