Force gives chance to stars, hopefuls
Force coach Michael Foley.

Western Force coach Michael Foley will roll out big names and new signings in the club's first pre-season trial against Samoa A tomorrow night.

The only star missing from the 34-man squad is Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman, who is in the last stages of recovery from a complex shoulder reconstruction.

He could return a couple of weeks into the Super Rugby season or through Force A games this month or next.

Wallabies Ben McCalman and Nick Cummins will be eased into the match, along with Wallaby-in-waiting centre Kyle Godwin and hooker Nathan Charles who are both back from surgery.

Among those wearing the Force jumper for the first time will be South African marquee signing, second-rower Wilhelm Steenkamp, Wallabies and former Reds winger Luke Morahan and halves Ian Prior and Zack Holmes, who have moved from the Brumbies.

Most Super teams are trialling against each other, but Foley is happy to fly under the radar and take on a Samoa side that has only just been brought together.

The Samoans will be physical if unpredictable elsewhere as they use the game as a trial for their Pacific Cup campaign.

"We've played trials like this before and one of the things that tests you is the level of unpredictability," Foley said.

"They certainly don't necessarily have the combination of players that have spent a long time together but they are very talented athletes and things can happen on the spur of the moment. We have to cope with that.

"There will be plenty of challenges and different sorts of challenges."

By naming a large squad Foley is not giving any early hints about his selection plans for the Super season.

"You have an idea of what that first team might look like but there is competition for positions and we are recognising that in the trials by giving guys opportunities," Foley said.

"Having done such great work in preparation, it is now down to individuals and for us as coaching staff to make meaningful combinations.

"It's going to come down to performances."

Foley said he would not be too concerned about the score in tomorrow's game and the trials seven days later against Samoa A and the Argentina Pampas side.

"For us it's about testing things we've been practising," he said.

"We've been going at it pretty hard seven weeks off-season, then 14 weeks pre-season."

No player is likely to be given more than 60 minutes in a game split into 20-minute quarters.

"You have an idea of what that first team might look like but there is competition for positions …""Western Force coach *Michael Foley *

The West Australian

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