Astonishing backstory to young gun's 'Forklift' nickname

Astonishing backstory to young gun’s ‘Forklift’ nickname

Five rounds into Super Rugby Pacific and it looks like we’ve got ourselves the most unpredictable competition in a long, long time. 

Up is down for the winless Crusaders, Moana Pasifika have jagged a couple of wins, and the Aussie sides – touch wood – have parked their bunny status against New Zealand opponents.

It’s all looking very promising and with Super Rugby Women’s underway, the Hong Kong Sevens around the corner, and club rugby on the way, there’s enough good stuff to keep everyone happy.

Watch all the action from the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, with every match ad-free, live and and on demand on Stan Sport

The week gone offered up plenty of highlights and one big low. Here we go!


It’s well known how smartly the Brumbies bring players through their pathways and into Super Rugby. Often they’ll give up-and-comers a taste at the top, turn them out, bring ’em back, and so on. Not long after, they’re generally bona-fide pros. Luke Reimer and Charlie Cale are a couple of good recent examples.

Well, prop Harry Vella has made his first step on that same road after debuting on Friday night to the delight of his old workmates at Strike Group in Brisbane.

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The story goes Vella was such a strong kid that his co-workers would utilise his enormous frame to shift giant parcels around the warehouse. The actual forklift would sit unused because Harry matched its power and was more fun to hang out with.

As time went on, Harry Vella simply became known as ‘The Forklift.’

It’s been a tough run for the 23-year-old. He spent 18 months out of the game with a badly injured ACL but showed he’s made for Super Rugby with a strong performance in his side’s big win.


Western Force coach Simon Cron shredded his team following their lacklustre loss against Moana Pasifika. 

Amongst a bunch of other shots fired, he described the game as ‘an absolute write-off’ and demanded ‘an 85-minute performance’ against the Reds.

Clearly, the spray worked because his side delivered one of their best games in recent memory. The last time they ran in 40 against Queensland was way back in 2017.

It’s also worth noting they led both the Brumbies and Rebels at half-time this year before succumbing late.

Two of the biggest fans of the Western Force’s upset victory were youngsters Jaxson and Courtney who did a great job filling in the Stan Sport broadcast as part of Kids Round which was a huge success.

It was a big night all around for the little ones in Perth with Force HQ offering a $20 food and drink voucher to the first 1500 through the HBF Park gates. Well played all.


Sticking with the kids for a moment, it’s worth giving one final shout-out to the Waratahs, particularly prop Hayden Thompson-Stringer.

The hulking front-rower formed a relationship between the club and Bear Cottage, a kids’ hospice on Sydney’s Northern Beaches earlier this year.

Bear Cottage is the only place of its type anywhere in NSW and helps terminally ill children and their families through unimaginable situations.

The partnership was on full display at the Tahs home game against the Blues where 54 kids, volunteers, and their families turned up to cheer on NSW.

Thompson-Steinger looks ready-made for the Cottage’s ‘Super Hero Week’ later this year as well. Slap some green paint on him and he’s got Hulk written all over.


Nine colleague Paul Cully published a terrific yarn over the weekend around World Rugby’s need to speed up play. With time on his hands, he grabbed a stopwatch and clocked 17 minutes of ‘dead-play’ in last year’s Rugby World Cup final. SEVENTEEN MINUTES. That’s almost an episode of ‘The Office’ on Stan.

With his usual smarts, Cully explained why the madness needs to end. Then, as if on cue, ‘dead-play’ reared its ugly head again that same night.

With Queensland looking to complete an against-the-odds comeback against a terrific Force outfit, they scored through Jock Campbell with the conversion landed by Harry McLaughlin-Phillips. HMP’s kick went through the posts with 74:55 on the clock and the margin nine points. Plenty of time for a grandstand finish. Then this happened.

NEW PODCAST! Sean Maloney, Morgan Turinui and Stephen Hoiles review the Force’s big upset of the Reds and whether golden point is a good thing for Super Rugby

The Force amble back to halfway (as is their right). Ben Donaldson fires the restart out on the full. Scrum is called, scrum goes down, repack is called. Scrum is about to engage before both sides are stood up again. Scrum is packed and the ball is ‘live’ again with 77:35 on the clock and the game now essentially dead.

Here’s a thought for lawmakers: why not give referees the ability to stop the clock inside the final 10 minutes to help drive a game to an exciting final play, to a climax? The NRL do it and the NFL is equally militant in managing their time late in games. Seems to be working pretty well for them.

I think most would agree there’s nothing better than a team chasing a game late, remember this classic?


Many thought it was a typo when longtime Wallaroo and Waratahs backrower Grace Hamilton’s name popped up on the Rebels team sheet for round two play.

Hamilton, who was as Sky Blue as they come, has gone south after time playing with Montpellier in France.

Another big-name signing for Melbourne is former Red, test and sevens representative Sammy Treherne.

Treherne has returned to the game after becoming a mum And was at her typical scintillating best against the Brumbies, almost causing the upset of the weekend.

Over in Perth, the Western Force stunned the Queensland Reds, beating them for the first time in the history of the tournament. 

Up in Lautoka, the Waratahs went berzerk in the second half to nail the defending champions Fijiana.

Like the men, the women look set for the most open season ever.

See you all on Stan Sport Monday for Between Two Posts with Stephen Hoiles and Morgan Turinui.

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