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The Emirates Western Force has signed powerful inside centre Chris Tuatara-Morrison for two years.
The sizeable and dynamic inside back has been plying his trade for Northern Suburbs in Sydney’s Shute Shield competition since returning from rugby league for the 2012 season.
New Zealand-born Tuatara-Morrison represented the NSW Schoolboys in 2004 before being recruited to rugby league, where he was contracted to the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm, Wests Tigers, and Canterbury Bulldogs for whom he played two National Rugby League matches.
Since switching back to rugby, the 25-year-old has made a resounding impact for Northern Suburbs as the side’s second top try scorer (five tries) in their resurgent season and starring in their march towards the finals.
Tuatara-Morrison says he’s been rejuvenated by his return to rugby and is excited about taking the next step with the Emirates Western Force.
“I was probably a bit stale in league and I knew I needed a change,” he said. “My manager and [former Emirates Western Force back-rower and current Northern Suburbs head coach] Scotty Fava gave me a call at the beginning of the season and said I had a few assets that would suit rugby. They told me to come along and have a crack and now I’ve ended up at the Force – so it’s been a good move for me!
“I was one of those kids that played rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday, so rugby’s never been too distant, and I feel like I’ve slotted back in fairly well.
“I just can’t wait to get back into a professional program, especially with the Force.”
Tuatara-Morrison says his exchanges with incoming Emirates Western Force coach Michael Foley has him excited about his growth as a player and what the club can achieve.
“I’m really keen to be a part of rebuilding the club and there seems to be a lot happening behind the scenes to make that happen,” he said. “From the outside there doesn’t seem to be too many expectations on the Western Force for next year, so hopefully Mike Foley, the players that are already there and the new recruits can all chip in and lead the club in a really positive direction.
“I’ve had a few conversations with Mike and he’s been really good for my development. He’s had a chat to me all the way through the [Shute Shield] finals series with Norths and, to be honest, I can’t wait to work with him. I know I’ve got a lot to work on my game being my first year back at rugby, so I’m pretty raw but hopefully he sees me as a blank canvas and can teach me a lot more along the way.
“My aim at the moment is just to get one game, whether that be starting or on the bench. To get my debut would be a dream come true and I’ll be doing everything I can to make that occur next year.”
Foley says Tuatara-Morrison is an exciting prospect for the Emirates Western Force as part of a revamped backline in 2013.
“While Chris is relatively experienced in football terms, he’s definitely one of our code’s up-and-coming players,” he said. “He’s a very powerful footballer that can not only straighten an attack and provide clean front-foot ball for his side, but is developing a great ability to offload and ball play in contact.
“Part of relaunching the side is about identifying these young players, giving them an opportunity and developing them into long-term fixtures for the club. Successful clubs need continuity and Chris has the potential to be a regular part of this backline over a number of years.
“Chris is very hungry for his opportunity and – with the players we now have on contract around him – will be a valuable contributor in what should be a very potent backline in 2013.”
Name: Chris Tuatara-Morrison
Position: Inside/outside centre
Representative Rugby: 2010-2011 Sydney Roosters (NRL), 2008-2009 Wests Tigers (NRL), 2006-2007 Canterbury Bulldogs (NRL), 2005 Melbourne Storm (NRL), 2004 NSW Schoolboys