A Force to be reckoned with

The Western Force will field seven Test players in their squad to face the British & Irish Lions in Perth on Wednesday night in the first fixture of the 125th anniversary tour on Australian soil. [more]

A Force to be reckoned with

The Western Force will field seven Test players in their squad to face the British & Irish Lions in Perth on Wednesday night in the first fixture of the 125th anniversary tour on Australian soil.

Despite call-ups to the Qantas Wallabies squad, and the fact head coach Michael Foley has to think about Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs, there is still plenty of experience in the home ranks.

And Foley believes the hard work his side have been able to put into their 11 day break since their last Super Rugby outing will ensure his team is up to the mark at Patersons Stadium.

“The scheduling is difficult for us but every player in our squad is eagerly looking forward to the Lions game, and then later in the week the Waratahs,” admitted former Bath coach Foley.

“We haven’t talked about the Lions game ongoing, but we’ve understood that it’s been coming up and understood what a unique and exciting chance it will be to play against the Lions.

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“We’ve planned accordingly and the guys worked very, very hard last week in our bye week. A lot of teams get time off but we worked hard on the training field.

“I’ve been pleased with the way things have gone in training. In the absence of combinations in a couple of spots, we do have a lot of experience in others. With Brett Sheehan and Sam Norton-Knight – our senior guys at nine and ten – Matt Hodsgon captaining the side, supported by Richard Brown, Toby Lynn and Salesi Ma’afu, there’s a lot of experience there. It will be down to those guys to make the decisions and guide the team.”

Joining Ma’afu in the front row is former Australian Under 20 prop Salesi Manu and James Hilterbrand, who has been part of the Force’s match day 22 for their past six Super Rugby matches. Super Rugby veteran Toby Lynn and Phoenix Battye will pack down at lock, while Angus Cottrell, who has started seven matches at blindside flanker for the Force this season, has been named with Hodgson and Brown in the back row.

Winger Dane Haylett-Petty, who played nine Super Rugby matches for the Western Force between 2008 and 2010, will return to join the Western Australian side, having represented French club, Biarritz, since 2010. He will be joined in the back three by Sam Christie, who started at outside half in the Force’s opening two matches of the 2013 Super Rugby season, and winger Corey Brown, who was a member of the Force’s Wider Training Group and leading try-scorer in the 2012 Shute Shield competition.

Squad members Chris Tuatara-Morrison and ex-Australian Sevens representative Ed Stubbs will make up the Western Australian midfield. The Force has included Cottesloe utility and 2012 PG Hampshire winner Nick Haining on the bench, while former IRB Junior World Championship front-rowers Hugh Roach (Australia), Tim Metcher (Australia) and Sione Kolo (Fiji) will receive their first opportunities.

Wider Training Group member and Northern Suburbs lock Ben Matwijow, Force back-rower Lachlan McCaffrey and winger Junior Rasolea have also been selected on the bench.

Western Force (v British & Irish Lions, Wednesday, 5 June)

15. Sam Christie (4 SR)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (9 SR)
13. Ed Stubbs (6 SR)
12. Chris Tuatara-Morrison (Uncapped)
11. Corey Brown (Uncapped)

10. Sam Norton-Knight (66 SR, 2 Tests)
9. Brett Sheehan (92 SR, 6 Tests)

1. Salesi Manu (8 SR)
2. James Hilterbrand (1 SR)
3. Salesi Ma’afu (72 SR, 13 Tests)
4. Toby Lynn (61 SR)
5. Phoenix Battye (11 SR)
6. Angus Cottrell (15 SR)
7. Matt Hodgson (c) (95 SR, 6 Tests)
8. Richard Brown (88 SR, 23 Tests)

Replacements
16. Hugh Roach (Uncapped)
17. Sione Kolo (Uncapped)
18. Tim Metcher (Uncapped)
19. Ben Matwijow (Uncapped)
20. Lachlan McCaffrey (8 SR)
21. Alby Mathewson (97 SR, 4 Tests)
22. Nick Haining (Uncapped)
23. Junior Rasolea (10 SR)

SR = Super Rugby caps
Tests = international caps
 

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