Wykes locked in and loaded
Sam Wykes at training yesterday. Pic: Nic Ellis/WA News

Lock Sam Wykes and full-back Jayden Hayward return to the Western Force run-on side to take on the Bulls tomorrow night at nib Stadium.

Wykes' inclusion after recovering from a rib injury sees Wilhelm Steenkamp go to the bench while Dane Haylett-Petty moves from full-back to right wing.

The Force are fifth on 23 points but with a bye the following weekend will need a bonus-point victory to stay ahead of the pack.

They are only two points off the second-placed Brumbies but four chasing teams, including the Bulls, are four points or fewer behind.

The Bulls, who by their standards are coming to the end of a disappointing tour, are on 19 points after picking up only bonus points from each of their losses to the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Waratahs.

They have injury problems and captain Flip van der Merwe is suspended after punching Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan last weekend.

Wykes said the losses would not weaken the Pretoria side.

"They have got a mountain of depth," Wykes said. "They may not have the same amount of caps but they are going to be just as good, no doubt about it.

"They are very big and their set piece is a big strength. They like to maul and if you can't get that down ... as we know from last year they were mauling us 25-30 metres.

"They haven't changed their style for 10 years. We know what's coming. It's just a matter of trying to stop it. If they get a roll on it's hard to stop. We were a bit under par with our scrum and line-out in the past couple of weeks so we really have to be sharp.

"You don't want to be running off slow ball against these blokes. They are going to tee off on you. You've got to get into a rhythm of playing up-tempo."

Wykes said former Springboks skipper Victor Matfield, who will lead the Bulls, was inspirational.

"Any team that has him leading it is going to grow in confidence," Wykes said.

"Hearing a speech before the game from him has got to be pretty amazing. Afterwards I'll still be in awe shaking his hand, saying it was a privilege to play against him."

Force: Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles, Kieran Longbottom, Adam Coleman, Sam Wykes, Angus Cottrell, Matt Hodgson (capt), Ben McCalman, Ian Prior, Sias Ebersohn, Nick Cummins, Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache, Dane Haylett-Petty, Jayden Hayward. Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Ollie Hoskins, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Brynard Stander, Justin Turner, Zack Holmes, Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Bulls: Dean Greyling, Bongi Mbonambi, Werner Kruger, Paul Willemse, Victor Matfield (capt), Jono Ross, Jacques du Plessis, Grant Hattingh, Francois Hougaard, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Bjorn Basson, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, Jurgen Visser. Reserves: Bandise Maku, Marcel van der Merwe, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Ulrich Beyers, Morne Mellet.

The West Australian

Popular videos