Western Force have suffered a huge blow, losing scrum-half Alby Mathewson for Saturday night’s must-win Super Rugby clash with the Queensland Reds at nib Stadium.
Mathewson suffered a hip injury in the 40-14 thumping by the Blues last weekend and joins playmaking partner, fly-half Sias Ebersohn on the injury list. Ebersohn injured his left bicep in the Blues clash.
Ian Prior will wear the No.9 jumper, pairing with his former Brumbies teammate Zack Holmes at fly-half.
The Force welcome back Wallabies winger Nick Cummins who missed last week with a neck complaint suffered during the Wallabies’ three-Test series against France..
Captain Matt Hodgson will lead the side after receiving a head knock last weekend.
In the forward pack, second-rower Wilhelm Steenkamp replaces Adam Coleman while prop Pek Cowan will become the third most-capped player in the club’s history on Saturday when he runs out for his 80th match.
The 28-year-old surpasses Richard Brown (79 caps) and sits behind Hodgson (111) and Nathan Sharpe (92) on the all-time list of appearances for the club.
The Force must beat the Reds if they are to make a maiden Super Rugby play-off appearance before facing the Brumbies in Canberra in another do-or-die match.
Coach Michael Foley said his side will be looking for a fitting final home performance of the regular season.
“We’ve loved playing at home this season and our supporters are an important part of what makes it so special” Foley said.
“This weekend we’re looking for a performance that not only allows us to reach the goals we’ve set ourselves as a team, but provides a fitting performance for our fans who keep fronting for us.
“We know that the key to achieving that is our attitude.
“Irrespective of the situation in the game, attack, defence, the battle at the breakdown, our desire to win every moment and our willingness to work for each other will always make the biggest difference.”
Western Force: Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles, Kieran Longbottom, Sam Wykes, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Hugh McMeniman, Matt Hodgson (capt), Ben McCalman, Ian Prior, Zack Holmes, Nick Cummins, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Marcel Brache, Dane Haylett-Petty, Jayden Hayward. Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Oliver Hoskins, Adam Coleman, Brynard Stander, Justin Turner, Dillyn Leyds, Solomoni Rasolea.