The West

Force call in the cavalry for Blues clash
Western Force centre Winston Stanley. Picture: John Mokrzycki / The West Australian.

The Western Force will start with a revamped back row as part of four changes to the starting side to face the Blues in their Super Rugby clash at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.

Captain David Pocock and fellow Wallabies flanker Matt Hodgson were both injured against the Brumbies meaning Angus Cottrell returns to the side at openside flanker, while No.8 Lachlan McCaffrey is promoted to the starting team from the bench. The pair will join blindside flanker Richard Brown in the back row.

The other changes see a call up for ex-Blues centre Winston Stanley who played six games for the club from 2009-2011 and Brett Sheehan return at scrumhalf in place of Josh Holmes.

Nathan Sharpe will captain the side.

Stanley said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s a big challenge for the team and for me personally,” he said.

“There’s been a bit of banter with the Blues guys but I’m trying to keep it pretty low key. I’d rather go out there and let my performance do the talking.

"It’s about just getting out there and doing the things I know I do well and hope that helps get the result.”

The Force have three uncapped players on the reserves bench, former Fijian Warriors representative Anare Koliavu, winner of the 2011 PG Hampshire award for RugbyWA's best premier grade player, prop Ruan Smith and second row Ollie Atkins .

Hooker Ben Whittaker has been called in replacing Elvis Taione, while Australian under-20 fly-half Kyle Godwin will make his first appearance in the squad since returning from the IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa last month.

Force coach Phil Blake said the new faces had been given a huge opportunity.

“This is a massive opportunity not just for this week but possibly next week and moving forward beyond that,” he said.

“Each player that takes the field for us in the next fortnight needs to get something out of it, not just for the team but individually as well as part of their education for next year.

“Locky McCaffrey earns his chance and he brought something different off the bench for us last week. From where he’s come from this season to where he is now, it’s been a great education and this is a good opportunity for him.

"The same goes for Gus, he’s a good young player and won’t let us down. He’s got a high work rate and lots of energy and that will be welcome on Saturday.

“As for Winston, there’s nothing better than coming back and playing against a team you’re familiar with and have mates with in the opposition. This will be a good test for him and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

Western Force: Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles, Salesi Manu, Toby Lynn, Nathan Sharpe (c), Richard Brown, Angus Cottrell, Lachlan McCaffery, Brett Sheehan, Ben Seymour, Napolioni Nalaga, Winston Stanley, Will Tupou, Nick Cummins, Alfie Mafi. Reserves: Ben Whittaker, Ruan Smith, Ollie Atkins, Anare Koliavu, Josh Holmes, Kyle Godwin, Patrick Dellit.

The West Australian

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