The Western Force has continued its positive recruiting drive for the 2012 season with the addition of exciting Blues back Winston Stanley on a two-year deal.
A young player with a bright future, he was member of New Zealand's Under-19 World Cup-winning team in 2007 and also the victorious Under-20 side two years later, his performances at the 2009 tournament earning a nomination as the IRB Junior Player of the Year.
Snapped up by the Blues, Stanley made his Super Rugby debut in 2009, and for the last three seasons has played alongside older brother and All Black centre Benson Stanley.
While injury stalled his progress in 2010 he fought hard to win his place back in an impressive Auckland line-up this season and managed three matches for the semifinalists, including game time against the Waratahs in the qualifying first round of the play-offs.
Approached by Western Force coach Richard Graham about a move to Perth the 22-year-old was eager to head west to expand his horizons and be part of the side's bright future.
"I had been well looked after in Auckland and also playing in the same side as my brother was really great however I considered what I wanted to get out of my rugby and a fresh start at a team with a strong reputation for their professional programme was really appealing," Stanley said.
"I have heard really good things from the people I have spoken to and I just wanted to get a new perspective on my rugby and have some life experience by moving to a new place away from home."
One of the people Stanley contacted was 2011 Western Force Player of the Year David Smith who spoke extremely highly of both Perth and what was on offer from a rugby perspective.
"David and others I have spoken to couldn't have been more complimentary about playing rugby in Perth," Stanley said.
"In my discussions with Richard [Graham] it became very clear the aspirations and direction he wants to take the team and the resources being put in to achieving those goals."
While a brand new Ausmillion state of the art training facility in Perth is playing its part in attracting new recruits, Stanley also pointed to the strong foundations that have been laid in assembling a squad capable of challenging at the top end of the Super Rugby ladder.
"For sure you want to be playing in a winning team," said Stanley.
"The team has a really strong forward pack with plenty of current Wallabies and also boasts some exciting backs which I hope I can add to and be a strong contributor.
"I know there are some pretty handy midfielders already there so I have no misgivings about how much work I'll need to do to challenge those guys for a place in the side. Competition is good though and I'm sure it will make all of us better players overall."
Stanley has strong links to Australia having been born in Brisbane and spent his first 11 years in the country before moving to Auckland with his family. He comes from a classy rugby pedigree, aside from his All Blacks capped brother his uncle is former All Black and 1987 World Cup winner ‘Smokin' Joe Stanley.
The youngster has inherited some of his famous uncle's traits with great vision, an ability to offload in the tackle and defensive hardness all key elements of his play.
"Winston is light on his feet which enables him to win contact and off load and will add something to our attacking game," Graham said.
"At 22 years of age he is still learning and growing in the game but is also mature in terms of his development having come through a very good system in Auckland.
"He is also an intelligent young man and anyone that you speak to regarding Winston talks about the quality of person that he is and that says volumes about him."
Stanley will remain in New Zealand to play out the NPC competition as part of the Auckland side before heading to Perth for pre-season training starting in November.
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