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‘Plenty of potential’: ‘World-class’ Wallaby commits to Western Force

By Finn Morton
Waratahs' Ben Donaldson (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

The Western Force have added another “world-class player” to their squad ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

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Alongside magical winger Harry Potter and veteran halfback Nic White, Wallaby Ben Donaldson will make a headline-grabbing move west from the 2024 season.

Rugby Australia and the Western Force announced the transfer on Friday. Donaldson has committed his future to Australian rugby until the end of 2025 – which could potentially see him play the British and Irish Lions.

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Donaldson made his Test debut in Wallaby gold during last year’s end-of-season tour against Italy in Florence, and went on to start in the No. 10 jersey against Wales in Cardiff.

Now, at just 24 years of age, it seems that Donaldson is firmly in contention for more opportunities with the national team. The playmaker was included in Eddie Jones’ squad for a training camp on the Gold Coast earlier this year.

While Donaldson appears to be in the running for Wallaby gold, the squads for the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup are yet to be announced.

Nothing is set in stone.

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But clearly, Eddie Jones is both a believer in and supporter of Donaldson.

“Ben is a young player with plenty of potential and his re-signing is positive for Australian Rugby,” Jones said in a statement.

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After starting the first three matches of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific season at fullback, Donaldson took over as the Waratahs’ chief playmaker in round four.

Playing in the No. 10 jersey against the Hurricanes in Wellington, Donaldson made his mark. The utility back started 15 matches for the Tahs at either fullback or first-five, including their quarter-final loss to the Blues.

The Sydney-based team will look a bit different one of their regulars from the 2023 season.

But Waratahs’ loss is the Western Force’s gain, and Donaldson is clearly “excited to continue my career in Perth.”

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“I’m really impressed by the program that Simon and the coaches are running and also by the squad that’s developing at the Western Force,” Donaldson said.

“The team has plenty of talent, playing some unreal footy this season and I’m looking forward to earning the respect of the supporters and my teammates and getting an opportunity to contribute my skills and work ethic to the squad.

“It’s a really exciting time in Australian Rugby at the moment and I’m looking forward to continuing to improve as a player and fight for opportunities for higher honours.”

Donaldson may have Test experience – and with that comes both pedigree and pressure – but the Wallaby is no certainty to start for the Force next season.

Rising star Reesjan Pasitoa missed the entire 2023 season with an ACL injury and will be eager to make his mark, and Max Burey is another exciting talent.

Force coach Simon Cron described the star recruit as a “world-class player” as he spoke about the importance of “positional competition” within the squad.

“As a team we need to grow our positional competition. It’s critical that we have competition in each position so when we train the intensity and accuracy tests our execution. Ultimately practice execution becomes game reality,” Cron said.

“Dono (Donaldson) is a world-class player and a great human who will add to our squad. In talking with the other 10s, they are excited to have him onboard because it will only make everyone push to be their best.

“He is a triple threat in attack with a running game and kick and pass skillsets, which means the defence must think. Combine this with his drive to learn and the desire to be his best, we are excited to get him over here.

“We look forward to putting him in different situations and scenarios that will help him develop as a player and give him the structures around him that he needs to be successful.”

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