Emirates Western Force Head Coach John Mitchell has announced his team for Saturday night’s Investec Super 14 Week 6 clash with the Sharks at Subiaco Oval.
Mitchell has named six changes to the starting XV as the WA side returns to Subiaco Oval for the first time in a month after a three-match tour through Canberra, Hamilton and Christchurch.
Injuries to both starting wingers in the 23-all draw with the Crusaders last week has prompted two forced changes to the backline, while teenage back James O’Connor will run on for the first time at fullback.
92-match veteran Scott Staniforth will make his first starting appearance for the 2009 season after being called in for the injured Nick Cummins.
Staniforth confirmed his fitness with a 70-minute stint for NSW club Eastwood in a trial match in Sydney two weeks ago.
Cummins suffered a minor hamstring strain and will miss the weekend clash along with fellow flyer Cameron Shepherd who failed a fitness test on his injured ankle.
Shepherd’s number 11 jersey has been taken by Drew Mitchell, who returns to the left wing after starting the past four matches in the number 15 jersey.
O’Connor’s move to fullback has paved the way for Junior Pelesasa to return at inside centre, while Mitchell has also made two changes to his starting forward pack.
Australian Under 21s lock Tom Hockings and Australia A flanker Matt Hodgson both return to the starting lineup after a one-week stint on the reserves bench.
Hockings will partner skipper Nathan Sharpe in the second row, while Hodgson returns at number six where he started against the Brumbies three weeks ago.
Mitchell said his side had addressed its slow starts in recent matches.
“We’ve had to address our starts but being able to build and sustain pressure with the ball is something that we have to achieve more consistently in order to get results,” said Mitchell.
“Our effort to get back into the contest in the second half against the Crusaders last week was outstanding but the players are hungry to produce a complete eighty-minute performance.”
The Emirates Western Force will wear pink jerseys on field on Saturday night to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation of WA (BCFWA) – RugbyWA’s chosen charity for 2009/10.
2009 Investec Super 14 Week 6
Emirates Western Force v Sharks
Saturday 21 March, 2009
Subiaco Oval, Perth
Kick off: 7.45pm WDST
Emirates Western Force
1. Pek Cowan
2. Tai McIsaac
3. Ben Castle
4. Tom Hockings
5. Nathan Sharpe (c)
6. Matt Hodgson
7. David Pocock
8. Tamaiti Horua
9. Josh Valentine
10. Matt Giteau
11. Drew Mitchell
12. Junior Pelesasa
13. Ryan Cross
14. Scott Staniforth
15. James O’Connor
16. Luke Holmes
17. AJ Whalley
18. David Pusey
19. Richard Stanford
20. Chris O’Young
21. Josh Tatupu
22. Haig Sare