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Force's Hardwick wants to emulate Pocock

NZN 17/05/2017 Justin Chadwick

Western Force back-rower Richard Hardwick says he would love to bring a bit of David Pocock magic to the table if he manages to earn a dream Wallabies call-up for the June Test window.

Hardwick was as surprised as anyone when he was invited last month to a Wallabies camp.

The 22-year-old is only in his second season of Super Rugby, but he's quickly making an impression.

Hardwick, able to play any position in the back row, said he'd modelled his game on champion Wallaby Pocock.

"I love playing No.7. But, I've been playing No.8 for the last three years and been enjoying it thoroughly," Hardwick said.

"I don't bring a normal eight role to that No.8 jersey - I put my little spin on it.

"I try to play like David Pocock, how he played when he was playing with Michael Hooper in the Wallabies' squad.

"I try to do that, but it's pretty big boots to fill."

Australia's first Test window of the year is fast approaching.

The Wallabies play Fiji on June 10 in Melbourne, before facing Scotland (in Sydney) and Italy (in Brisbane).

But for now, Hardwick is fully focused on helping the Force snatch a shock finals berth.

The Force are just six points adrift of top spot in the Australian conference, courtesy of last week's upset 16-6 win over the Jaguares.

But they'll face an even bigger test on Saturday night when they host the Highlanders, who are riding a seven-match winning streak.

"I think it's everyone's focus to get to the top spot," Hardwick said.

"We've got a big game on the weekend and we're putting all our energy into that."

Hardwick is proof of the successful pathways RugbyWA has put in place since the Force's inception in 2006.

The emerging star was born in Namibia, before moving to Perth in 2002 when he was just eight years old.

Hardwick joined the RugbyWA Academy in 2011, and represented the Perth Gold and Force 'A' in 2012.

He was one of three inaugural members of the Future Force Foundation in 2015, before making his Super Rugby debut last year.

Either the Force or Melbourne Rebels are set to be axed by the ARU ahead of next season.

Hardwick said it would be a massive blow to WA rugby if the Force were to be cut.

"You have a lot of local talent coming through," he said.

"To see it potentially being taken away from us - it would be a massive loss to WA sport."

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