Former Leinster and Melbourne Rebels hooker Tom Sexton will join the Western Force for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
The 26-year-old, who links with the Force on a one-year Extended Playing Squad contract, joins former Springbok Peter Grant, Wallabies/Reds centre Ben Tapuai, and former Reds and Waratahs fly-half Jono Lance as new signings for the Perth-based outfit for next season.
Both Sexton and Lance will be in action in Perth this Sunday when they run out for the NSW Country Eagles against the Perth Spirit at McGillivray Oval.
Sexton, a former Irish Schoolboys captain and Ireland U19 and U20 representative, joined the Melbourne Rebels for the 2014 season before being ruled out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during pre-season training, requiring a knee reconstruction.
However, he returned to the Rebels’ line-up in 2015, making his Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes and finishing the season with five caps to his name.
Sexton says he’s looking forward to pressing his claim for further representation with the Force in 2016.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be joining the Force next year,” he told the Western Force's official website.
“I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of years in Australia and to get another opportunity be able to challenge for a spot is really exciting.
“Super Rugby is the benchmark club competition, and to be able to test myself against the best players in the world is exciting. I got a small taste last year but I’m very hungry for more. I’m very fortunate to be able to come to Perth and give it a good crack.
“Coming from Ireland and Europe, I really like the strong values of the Force, particularly in terms of the team’s scrummaging and set piece.
"Having Michael Foley – a former Test hooker – as coach is a fantastic opportunity for me to learn from someone of that calibre and I’m hoping to fit into their style of rugby well.”
Sexton says he’s excited about the prospect of meeting many of his Western Force team-mates – on and off the field – when the Spirit hosts the NSW Country Eagles this Sunday at McGillivray Oval.
“We’re very motivated for the game this week,” he added.
“We’ve got a good bunch of guys at NSW Country and we’re coming up against a very good Perth side. Hopefully it’ll be a good game, and will give me the chance to meet a lot of my teammates for next year after the game.
“I’ve had a few conversations with Jono [Lance] about places to live in Perth and being part of the Force next season.
"He’s very also excited about it and it’ll be good have a familiar face to be joining the squad with and I’m delighted to be able to continue playing with him beyond the NRC.”
Western Force head coach Michael Foley said Sexton will provide further depth at hooker.
“Tom brings a good skill set from his experience as a junior representative and senior professional player in Ireland.” he explained.
“However, the thing that separated him from other candidates was his mindset – he was primarily driven to join us based on his opportunity to compete for a spot in our match 23.”