He’s flown across the country to start a new Super Rugby chapter but there are plenty of familiar faces at the Western Force for Ben Tapuai.
The 26-year-old has played with most of the Perth players through his career, whether it be at Queensland’s The Southport School, Australian Schoolboys, his academy career or his seven seasons at the Queensland Reds.
The former Reds back joined the Force this week and said it was a smooth transition into the team.
“The boys have made me feel welcome,” he said.
“I’ve crossed paths with these guys before through the ranks of the academy and other franchises and even school.
“It’s not (like) walking into a whole new franchise with new faces I didn’t recognise.”
While he knows plenty of the players, he said it wasn’t an easy decision to move across the nation and away from his family and friends but in a way that’s what sparked this switch.
“The main factor (to think about) was distance from family and friends but that was part of the challenge, to get out of where I was comfortable,” he said.
“I love Perth, it’s been great to me so far.”
Tapuai brings with him some championship experience ,having won the Super Rugby title with the Reds in 2011.
On the second day of pre-season training, the Force players were put through some gruelling testing that Tapuai said would let everyone know where they were at.
“It’s hot I’ll tell you that much,” he said.
“I think the boys have a lot of nervous energy out there.
“The first couple of days everyone’s a little bit nervous to see how the holidays were.”
The Western Force opens its 2016 Super Rugby season against the Rebels in Perth on Saturday February 27.