Force with Godwin as he targets Crusaders

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013
Kyle Godwin
Getty Images
BIG TALENT: Kyle Godwin in action for the Force against the Rebels.

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Super Rugby

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Kyle Godwin's family joined the "white exodus" from Zimbabwe and settled in Australia a year before David Pocock and his loved ones fled their farm for sanctuary in South Africa and then Brisbane.

And now the 20-year-old Western Force five-eighth hopes to follow in the footsteps of the Wallabies flanker and represent his adopted country at test level.

Godwin's goal is progressing promisingly despite the Perth-based franchise again struggling in Australia's Super Rugby conference.

One win in seven games - a record that includes defeats to competition newcomers the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth and last weekend's derby against the Melbourne Rebels - practically condemns the West Australians to another season without finals football.

However, the emergence of Godwin has been a rare positive for a battling side who host the Crusaders tomorrow night as they stopover on the way home from South Africa.

The Australian under-20s first five-eighth has made a successful transition to midfield - a move necessitated by the acquisition of Sias Ebersohn from the Cheetahs.

Godwin made his Force debut against the Reds late last season and also made cameos off the bench against the Blues and Crusaders, scoring a try during their season-closing 38-24 defeat in Christchurch.

The Harare-born five-eighth is regarded as one of the Force's leading attacking players, a valuable conduit either side of Ebersohn and former Auckland and Blues midfielder Winston Stanley.

So as far as adjustments go, shifting out a spot in the Force backline is inconsequential.

"I'm enjoying the extra time and space and learning as much as I can from Sias and Winston, I'm trying to feed off them," Godwin said.

Godwin and Stanley have started every match so far and the rookie says their rapport is developing - a contributing factor to Tongan-born wing Alfie Mafi leading the competition's try-scoring standings with five.

Stanley, whose two-year contract expires at the end of the season, is an experienced second five-eighth so his advice has been crucial to Godwin's feeling comfortable in a role he inherits from foundation Force marquee player Matt Giteau, and then current Wallabies star James O'Connor.

He also pores over hours of footage of the opposing midfield - but declines to nominate his first choice No.12 or 13.

"Each centre brings their own challenges and everyone has been pretty daunting for me. It's a new kind of game for me, Super Rugby."

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He has avoided Sonny Bill Williams - for now at least - but All Blacks second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu looms when the Highlanders pitch up at NIB Stadium on May 25.

Ryan Crotty and Robbie Fruean are his most pressing assignment and he takes no comfort from the undermanned Crusaders exertions in Cape Town and Durban.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us," he said, disregarding the absence of Daniel Carter, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw.

"You can never underestimate the Crusaders at all."

- Fairfax Media

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