Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk has extended his stay with the Western Force, signing for another two seasons until the end of 2017.
The 24-year-old joins Chris Heiberg, Oliver Hoskins and Pek Cowan (all signed to the end of 2016) and Tetera Faulkner (2017) as props that have already recommitted to the Force beyond the 2015 season.
Van Wyk has played four matches for the Western Force, including two matches at the beginning of the 2015 Super Rugby tournament before his season was cut short by a torn pectoral muscle suffered in his maiden run-on start against the Reds in Round Two.
South African-born van Wyk, who previously represented Western Province in South Africa’s Vodacom Cup, has returned to the field for the Perth Spirit in the National Rugby Championship, already demonstrating the strong impact and providing the set-piece platform he was able to provide prior to his injury.
Van Wyk is excited to be continuing his career with the Western Force.
“After my injury this season I thought it might be difficult to be re-signed, but the belief the Force has shown in me for the next two years really means a lot,” he said.
“I just want to give as much back as I can to the Force over the next two years or more.
“I feel like I’ve improved massively from a technical point of view over the past two years, thanks to Foles [Michal Foley], Dave [Wessels] and Footey [Kevin Foote].
"I was just a young pup when I came originally, but technically and scrumming-wise I feel like I’ve improved a lot. While I know there’s still a lot to learn, it’s great to have three coaches that are so committed to helping me improve all areas of my game.
“It’s also been great having guys like Tet [Faulkner] and Pek [Cowan] around. For a young player like me, learning from guys who are the best in your position is so important.
"In my first year, I wanted to take every little bit of information that they gave me to get the knowledge to help me improve.
“I felt really unlucky to have the injury last season, but hopefully next year I’ll be ready to go. I’m really hungry to play and the NRC is so important for me in my preparation for next year, and I’m really hoping I can contribute to the team again.”
Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley believes van Wyk is a player with immense potential.
“While still young in front-row terms, Francois shows a great appetite for the contest and is developing his understanding in the scrum,” he said.
“While this season was disrupted by injury, his performance off the bench against the Waratahs provided an insight to what ‘Frankie’ is capable of.”