Five players set to debut for force in clash with rebels
The Western Force is set to have five players wearing Force blue for the very first time in the 23-man squad to take on the Melbourne Rebels at the Force Field (nib Stadium) on Saturday, 27 February.
Former Queensland Reds teammates Jono Lance and Ben Tapuai will both be in the starting XV, while Jermaine Ainsley, Peter Grant and Semisi Masirewa are all set to come off the bench.
Head Coach Michael Foley says he has full confidence in the abilities of all five debutants and looks forward to seeing them in blue for the first time.
“It’s an exciting time for those five players,” he said. “They’ve all worked hard to earn their places in the match squad for Saturday.”
“Round one is a great opportunity for every player in the team to put what we’ve practiced into action. From the beginning of our preparation, every player & staff member has committed to bravely chase the standards & style game of game we believe will bring us success and we’re all looking forward to our first step.”
Matt Hodgson will lead the team for the fourth year in a row and pack down in the seven jersey alongside Brynard Stander who will be at blindside flanker and Angus Cottrell will start at No. 8 in the absence of Ben McCalman.
The front row will boast veteran Pek Cowan at loosehead, alongside hooker Nathan Charles, and young gun Guy Millar will start at tighthead for just the second time in his career.
The familiar pairing of Steve Mafi and Adam Coleman, will start in the second row and look to dominate at set piece.
In the backline, Jono Lance will start at flyhalf for the first time for the Force, with Alby Mathewson on his inside. Kyle Godwin will start at 12, with Ben Tapuai debuting in the number 13 jersey in front of the Sea of Blue. While Marcel Brache, Luke Morahan and Dane Haylett-Petty will form the back three.
On the bench, Nedlands’ Jermaine Ainsley is in line to make his Asteron Life Super Rugby debut, along with former Stormers and Springboks flyhalf Peter Grant and New Zealand speedster Semisi Masirewa.
2016 Asteron Life Super Rugby – Week One
Western Force v Melbourne Rebels
Force Field (nib Stadium), Perth
Saturday, 27 February 2016
Kick-off: 6.50pm (local)
1. Pekahou Cowan
2. Nathan Charles
3. Guy Millar
4. Steve Mafi
5. Adam Coleman
6. Brynard Stander
7. Matt Hodgson
8. Angus Cottrell
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Jono Lance**
11. Marcel Brache
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Ben Tapuai**
14. Luke Morahan
15. Dane Haylett-Petty
16. Heath Tessmann
17. Chris Heiberg
18. Jermaine Ainsley**
19. Ross Haylett-Petty
20. Chris Alcock
21. Ian Prior
22. Peter Grant**
23. Semisi Masirewa**
** denotes Western Force/Super Rugby debut