New Zealand born Ripia resigned due to stealing from teammates

Following the departure of Foreign Developing player Willie Ripia on Tuesday evening, the Emirates Western Force has been granted special permission by the Australian Rugby Union to recruit a replacement player. Full squad lists were declared by December 31, 2011, and as such Western Force made request to the ARU for another player to be recruited in place of Ripia.

The contract rules allow the ARU to permit a Super Rugby team to replace a nominated player where it sees fit and with the overall interests of Australian rugby. With the start of the 2012 season fast approaching, head coach Richard Graham has to move fast.

“We are pleased with the ARU’s decision to allow us to recruit a replacement player under the circumstances and will look to fill that gap as soon as we can,” Graham said.

Ripia was forced to resign after it was revealed he was caught stealing from teammates, in their Perth based locker room. Ripia has had previous personal problems and was in counseling, with the support of his club, for a gambling addiction.

After losing James O’Connor to the Melbourne Rebels, the pressure is on for Graham to recruit a new player. He remains confident in his current playing stocks at the club.

“James Stannard proved more than capable in the number 10 jersey at the back end of the 2011 season and the playing group have a lot of confidence in his control and ability,” said Graham. Ben Seymour and Kyle Godwin are continuing to develop in a competitive environment and will add competition and depth to that position. Obviously this has been a disappointing outcome for the squad but our main focus is moving forward and continuing our preparations for the 2012 season.”