Force first to take on newcomers
Force first to take on newcomers

The Western Force will make Super Rugby history next year when they become the first side to face new team Southern Kings.

The Port Elizabeth-based Kings were elevated into the competition after the controversial relegation of the Johannesburg-based Lions.

With Michael Foley at the helm in place of Richard Graham, the Force will play the Kings in South Africa on Saturday, February 23, in the second round, after opening their season against the Rebels in Melbourne eight days earlier.

Four of the WA team's first five games are on the road, against the Rebels, Kings, Bulls and Reds. They have a bye in round four.

The Force had asked for as many early-season games as possible to be played away to ensure construction of the new-look nib Stadium is complete for their first home game, against the Cheetahs in round six.

The Force have their usual busy flying schedule but it becomes exhausting in the four rounds starting on Friday, April 19, when they take on the Hurricanes in New Zealand, move to Canberra to meet the Brumbies, return to nib Stadium to face the Reds and then head back to New Zealand for a clash with the Chiefs.

Usually they would play their two New Zealand games on successive weekends.

They host all four Australian sides but also play 2012 semifinalists, the Sharks, the resurgent Highlanders and the star-studded Crusaders at home.

RugbyWA chief executive Vern Reid said the schedule contained many highlights.

"We're very excited about what the draw has provided, particularly with regard to our eight home matches," Reid said.

"We're grateful to SANZAR for allowing the side to spend the first five weeks away. It will be a tremendous homecoming when we return to a new-look stadium on March 23.

"We're honoured to be a part of the Kings' introduction to Super Rugby."

The Australian Conference teams start their games a week early to accommodate the nine-game schedule of the British and Irish Lions.

The West Australian

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